I meditate inside and outside—inside in a room in my apartment as well as outside in nature or in a public place.
What are the differences between indoor and outdoor meditation?
- Indoor meditation, which requires more mental toughness, enhances your focus, self-awareness, and willpower.
- Outdoor meditation, which requires more mental fluidity, enhances your receptivity, presence, and connection to the world.
At least this has been my personal subjective experience.
I recommend outdoor meditation especially for beginners and for people who have a hard time sticking to their meditation habit on a daily basis—because it’s easier to reach a meditative state under the open sky than it is in a dark isolated room. Also, of course, if you live in a stressful home environment (e.g., as a parent of young children or as a college student in a noisy dorm), practice outdoor meditation! Sure, there are more distractions outside than at home, but the distractions outside are mind-cooling, not tantalizing—they don’t stir up your emotions (unless you suffer from social anxiety or live in an area with a dense population of wolves, mountain lions, or violent street gangs).
And there’s more that’s special about open air meditation.
The magick of mindfulness is evolutionarily rooted in our hunter-gatherer DNA. Our foraging ancestors were constantly in the open—they had no houses to shield themselves from nature. So when you, as a carrier of such DNA, meditate outside, you will find yourself transitioning into a meditative state smoothly and effortlessly.
You don’t need to be mindful of your surroundings, but you may. Green is good, but gray can also be beautiful. You don’t need to be isolated from other humans, but you may. Solitude is good, but human swarming can also be beautiful. To have nothing but the sky above your head is what matters. Whether you’re high up on a mountain, deep in the woods, chilling at the beach, or sitting on a park bench—that’s secondary. You could just as well be waiting at the bus station or resting in a crowded shopping street. Birdsong is good, but industrial droning can also be beautiful.
Wherever you are, you can always be grateful for being there. It just comes easier in nature.
What I like most about outdoor meditation is that it allows you to connect—connect with the air, with the weather, with the plants, animals, and people around, with nature, and with life. Outdoor meditation wakes up your senses to fully experience the reality of temperatures, sounds, smells, winds, and distances (not a very coherent list, I know, but experiences aren’t logically coherent).
Here’s the catch, though: Reading about all this is futile. You have to go outside! Find a place to sit down and meditate, to close your eyes and observe the air moving through your body, moving across your skin. Go outside NOW. When you’re back, leave a comment below about your experience.