Outdoor Meditation: Let the Sunshine In


Ahhhh.....

Summer is an exceptional time of year. I once heard the quote, "Life is better in flip-flops" and I thought....yep, that about sums it up.

:)

Bare toes, long evenings, chirping birds, warm rays, the smell of sunscreen, flourishing gardens. Green green GREEN in every direction. I feel my dormant energy of winter/spring beginning to bubble up as I sense this mighty magnetic pull to get out and soak in the abundance of the season.

This is a natural energetic shift – we tend to withdraw in winter so we can restore and rest and when summer arrives, we bust out of our cocoon and want to fly around all over the place. I do, at least. This is glorious, in many ways....AND, I've noticed a pattern over the years: the consistency of my meditation practice and my inner awareness dwindle as the world outside becomes increasingly alluring. As a result, it's harder to keep up my consistent morning practice, especially when the sun is out, the bees are buzzing, and the world is my nectarine (no offense, oysters).

One of the things I've found super helpful in maintaining consistency throughout the summer is the opportunity to bring my practice outside. We have a park just across the street from our house, which is lovely, but even sitting on a porch or near an open window can offer a sense of connection to the outer world.

You might also consider heading into the woods (Mount Tabor, Forest Park or the Gorge are great local options for Portlanders). You may have heard of the newly trending Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku – a term that means "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing." I remember laughing when I first heard this term – immediately picturing a bubble bath in the midst of a Douglas Fir circle. But there's actually a pretty compelling body of research that suggest that spending time in wild, natural areas has a huge range of preventative health benefits. And there's no bath tub involved. The idea is that if someone goes to a natural area and sits or walks in a relaxed way, there are soothing, rejuvenating and restorative benefits that will transpire. These include significantly lower cortisol (stress) levels, reduced blood pressure, boosted immunity, improved mood, and better sleep, to name a few.