How to Relax in Nature: A Visual Meditation
by Berni Kozlowski
March 31, 2021
One of my favorite natural meditative moments happened on a fly-fishing trip on the San Juan River in a remote corner of New Mexico. I listened to the water flowing, felt the warmth of the sun on my face, and watched for the slightest movement on my line. I was a beginner and was learning to sync my movements so I could cast the line so it unfurled just so. I was learning to relax in nature.
The guide helped me to read the water and feel the subtle tug on my line. The urge to muscle the fish was strong, but thankfully, the guide walked me through having soft hands and being patient and I was able to land a beautiful trout.
Do you feel truly present to nature and life when you are doing something outdoors? You are gently engaged in the act and art of living and you don’t worry about solving or fixing anything that may arise in your mind. It can wait. You are fully present.
What if you could take that same soft awareness to your meditation practice? The trick is to use your senses.
Why is Being Outdoors a Natural Meditation?
People that meditate using their senses say it makes their practice feel inviting and delightful.
You can build a practice that is based on something that you love, calling you back again and again. The secret is to find a meditation technique or two that you simply LOVE. Meditating with sensory awareness builds mindfulness and your ability to sustain attention on something.
Building a Sensory Meditation Practice
There’s a myth that meditation is hard work.
That’s not quite true.
There are several key principles to getting the most out of your meditation without making it feel like hard work, using lessons learned from your natural meditative moments.
#1: Practice your technique. Your relationship with nature and yourself deepens the more practice meditation in nature with your senses open. Then you’ll move through your days with greater ease and grace.
#2: Individualize your practice. In fly fishing, time, weather, and water conditions affect which fly works best. In the same way, what you need in meditation will vary. Meditate in a way that suits you, your body, and your personality. You might need a breathing meditation one day and gratitude or a moving meditation another day. When fish aren’t biting try something else.
#3: Develop a soft touch. When you have a death grip on your rod, fishing can be challenging. When you find a meditative technique that requires almost no effort, and you are more likely to keep coming back.
You might not be able to be in nature every day but you can meditate every day, using sensory opportunities as gateways for triggering the relaxation response so you can get out of your head and into the moment.
You probably know how to enjoy sitting by the ocean, take a delightful walk in the woods, appreciate a summer rain from your porch, or play in the dirt in your garden. And you probably understand the mind-body connection of being outdoors, but what you might not know is how you can use a simple and easy vision meditation to enhance that connection.
Try This Vision Meditation
So, how do you do that? Well…it’s simpler than you might think. Keep on reading, and then give it a try.
Wherever you are right now, say to yourself “I am aware of seeing.” Let go of control and let your eyes move wherever they want to go. Rest on something that draws you in.
Then practice each quality of vision with a sense of child-like curiosity.
I am aware of color. Let your eyes move to some color that calls you and rest there.
I am aware of texture. Be willing to be surprised by the surface of something that you see. Perhaps it’s the bark of a tree or the smoothness of river rock.
I am aware of movement. Maybe you are drawn to the rustling of leaves in a breeze, the graceful flight of a bird, or the floating of the clouds above.
I am aware of the play of light and shadows. Get curious about the reflections and patterns caused by how light falls.
I am aware of space. Space is the distance between me and something I am observing. Or perhaps, I notice the space between two objects.
I am aware of the shape of things. Maybe the outline of a tree or contours of a cloud.
With practice, it becomes easier to pick out subtleties of your visual world which can be very relaxing. You will be re-wiring your brain to see the world in a richer way.
Shake it up a little bit
Try this meditation while relaxing in your favorite room, walking the dog, floating in your kayak, or sitting on your porch or deck. Practice this indoors or with a memory. Experiment and see what works for you. Maybe you rotate through all the qualities of vision or maybe you settle on a favorite. There are no rules.
Ready to try it? Click here to download the audio walkthrough of this visual meditation.
By the way, you can always ask me any questions you’ve got. And, if you want to learn more relaxation hacks, come to a live upcoming webinar.
You can do this!
Berni Kozlowski helps people ditch the overwhelm and profoundly shift their lives using instinctive meditation to bring more joy and wonder into their days. Currently based at the beach in NJ, Berni is the founder of Berni-K’s Rest Revolution. Contact Berni at email@example.com