Understanding Nature Meditation - Group Guided Session
Podcast Transcript and Recording below.
Dive deep into the mechanics of nature meditation in this particular recording from our Sunday guided meditation class held on July 23rd. As part of The Meditation Course, this podcast explores the intricate relationship between the natural environment and the process of meditating, illustrating how the calm and quiet of nature can significantly enhance our emotional processing and healing journey.
The complete transcript of this insightful group session is now available on The Meditation Course website. This will allow you to reflect more on each point and perhaps deepen your understanding at your own pace.
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Introduction to Nature Meditation
Okay, so the focus for today, the topic for today is the mechanics of nature meditation.
My Experience with Nature Meditation
When I did my nature meditations, like I've mentioned a few times, probably you've heard me say this, I didn't really recognise how important meditating in nature was. I ascribed, and this is typical, it's a typical human bias, we ascribe our successes to ourselves and our failings to external events. There's a thing called the illusion of control. So when things go our way, our illusion of control kicks in. And it's really nice to believe that it's the techniques, it's the techniques that I use, it's the way that I meditate, it gives you this feeling of agency. Now as things stand at the moment, I have those techniques and I can use them in a more artificial environment.
The Need for Natural Environment
So I can, if I'm, if I was to feel really difficult emotions, I'd be able to process them without actually having to go and sit in nature to do it. But looking back at it, I think it's highly probable because the nature meditation environment that I sought out was so far, just to get as far as I possibly could, from any human sounds, any human experiences, I just wanted to be around trees and birds and plants. And I didn't even want agricultural land, I wanted woodland or heathland or somewhere where there was nobody.
Intrusions and Interference in Nature Meditation
And I perceived, you know, passing walkers as an annoying intrusion into that and airplanes, traffic noise, and all of this. And that's kind of pretty standard, a lot of people do that, see that, you know, these incidental noises, sounds rather, which are part of our modern world, are intrusions on their personal quiet, calm place that they want to be in.
The Importance of Natural Environment in Meditation
And my personal quiet, calm place, I wanted to be in nature. I think it's probably likely that if I hadn't done that, then I wouldn't have been able to internalise these skills to the point where I can now use those skills without actually needing to go out into nature. If you want to learn those skills, come along on the 20th, because that's what I'll be teaching.
Cyclical Process of Healing Through Nature
And so what I'd done is I'd set up a cyclical process. And what it consisted of was, I was using being in nature to help me process my emotions and my baggage. That was helping me to release the barriers that I'd created between myself and the natural world and other people. And then that new connection to the natural world and to other people then helped me heal in another way.
Nature and Healing
And I've seen this a multitude of times. I've seen people who are really struggling, and then as they heal, what happens is they connect. So you might have somebody who's feeling alone and lonely and rejected and isolated and fearful. And then after a time, as their healing evolves, and you know, everybody's healing is different, this is just a path to healing through nature and through meditation. But what happens is they reconnect, and you know, you hear that they've joined some group that they've got. There's a relationship that's arisen and in contact with more people.
The Outcome of Healing
And the end result of that, very often, is they come along to the meditation classes less, which is fine. It's not that I want to sit, I want to have that process. I want people to come along, learn the benefit of the skills, use them, heal, grow, connect, repeat.
The Personal Aspect of Meditation
And so what happens in a meditation when we're healing is an entirely personal and private thing, but there is a pattern to it. This is something that I mention in the six-week course, what I call the Gaia process. We acknowledge our feelings and our suffering and our emotions and whatever it might happen to be.
The Gaia Process
And by acknowledging it, what we're actually doing is labelling it. It needs a name, let's say, fear, fear of some event, anxiety about some event. I've named it. The next process is to accept it, and that's easier said than done. And the reason for that is because the whole thing can appear overwhelming.
Challenges in Meditation
The whole, you know, you sit down, you're beginning your meditation, you may not have meditated before, the mind's so noisy, it keeps going back to whatever the melodrama of the day is. The melodrama of the day might not actually be the source of your suffering, that could be something that's happened in the past. For example, it might be your current situation. But generally the mind's going to sort of current problems and future problems.
Processing Emotions in Meditation
It's not going to, I am an anxious person and I'm aware that my anxiety is out of proportion to the things that I'm anxious about. It doesn't go there, instead it goes to, I've got to do this, do that, I'm worried about this, I'm anxious about that. And so all of this is going on at the same time. And so there's a process of really calming the mind and then working with the emotions. It doesn't really come second, but if the mind is not able to focus, focus is part of the process of acceptance, which is the second part of this process of healing, the Gaia process.
The Importance of Acknowledging and Accepting
So we acknowledge it, you know, I have this, might be anxiety, might be fear of the future, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of poverty, fear of rejection, whatever it might happen to be. And the list is infinite, changes from one person to the other. It might not even be that, there might be other emotions.
Acceptance and the Role of Nature
So we've got a name for it, accepting it, that's the difficult bit. And nature can do that for us. Nature, when we're in nature, it literally absorbs our stress. We can go to some place, most of us have these places in our mind, natural places we can go to, we can sit down and it absorbs our stress.
The Release Process
And stress is the body's response to the anxiety and the anxiety and the worry. The worry is in the mind and the anxiety is also in the mind, but it manifests itself through the body as emotion. And by processing it, by accepting it, we are able to release it and then we can move on.
The Long-term Nature of the Process
And then unfortunately for most of us, a few decades old human beings, we've got in a few years worth of work in this area. It's not a quick process because it took a while to get there; it will take a while to release it. But that is the process, and I'm increasingly more convinced as time goes on that the location being outside, as you go through this process of acknowledging and accepting and releasing your personal emotional baggage, being in nature is a pivotal part of that.