Self-care for Sensitive Souls
Reconnect with your inner resources
There’s something that often surprises people on our retreats.
As you might expect, we start by sitting quietly … we do the familiar things … we practise settling in our body, resting in our breath, bringing our wandering mind back (lots of times), and opening ourselves to a deeper truth within.
And this isn’t always easy. We know that meditation for all its rewards, can be challenging.
But what’s unexpected is how much easier - and yet deeper - our practice becomes when we’re outside, in nature.
Some of the most beautiful surprises and aha moments can come from a simple walking meditation.
The experience is profound yet readily accessible.
So what exactly happens?
You naturally find yourself feeling grounded and centred
In a meditation class, one of the first things we do is to ground ourselves consciously, in the present moment and into the earth that is beneath us, somewhere under the floorboards.
When we’re outside, this process seems to happen naturally. Just being outdoors in nature is grounding, with no barrier between us and the earth.
Not only that, but everything around us is just being gloriously alive and so we’re naturally drawn into the present moment.
Your sense of calm deepens
That state of calm that we hope for in our meditation comes more readily when we’re in nature.
As we tune into all the life that’s happening around us, we become more aware of our senses, and our mind quietens. Our thoughts fade into the background as we simply notice things - the sound of the wind in the trees, the solidity of the earth beneath our feet, the warmth of sunlight on our face.
It’s a lot less effort to pay attention. Our thoughts become simpler. We feel a stillness inside.
You feel more deeply connected to nature
As we gradually focus our attention on whatever we're drawn to - the song of a bird, the scent of the earth, the soft, changing cloudscape in the sky - our experience deepens. We feel nature affecting us, restoring and healing us.
If we allow ourselves to be in listening mode, we may even notice things in nature that speak to us in metaphors about our own life. This is a practice of not trying to find something, but just being open to what is trying to find you.
We come to see that when we bring our receptive presence to the natural world, it becomes a living, nurturing presence to us in return.
This is a heart-opening experience that can change things quite profoundly for us.
You start to seek this peace wherever you can
The more we spend contemplative time in nature, the more we become aware of how nourishing that is, and how much it brings noticeable, positive changes to our lives.
Here’s a simple meditation practice for finding that connection and peace of mind through nature. You don’t need to be camping in the woods or hiking up the hills for this. It’s doable whenever you find yourself with a patch of grass handy.
Begin by turning your attention inward. To do this, try focusing on your breath, simply sensing its movement as it flows in and out..
Once your attention has settled, start to tune into your senses.
I suggest you start with hearing - notice and enjoy whatever sounds are coming and going (like birdsong, the breeze or rustling leaves), but without getting lost in thinking about what the sound is or where it’s coming from.
Next, start to include your sense of touch - feeling the earth under your feet, the softness of the breeze on your skin, the tickliness of the grass.
Lastly, incorporate your experience of seeing. Imagine you're seeing a flower for the first time, and drink it in - the intricacy, the colours, the way the light falls on it.
The idea is to use your senses to help you to stay present, and to notice what effect nature is having on you.
Let this be easy, and enjoyable. Don't worry about doing it 'right'. Just let your senses naturally engage with what’s around you.
And those same things can bring you back when you get distracted. If your thoughts drift off, you only have to turn your attention to the sights and sounds, and you’re back in the now.
You can bring this practice to a close whenever you like, just remembering to bring that sense of peacefulness with you as you carry on with your day.
Our retreats and meditation mornings always include walking meditations, with guidance to help you connect with nature. You're warmly welcome to join us and try this practice in friendly, supportive company.