John Muir, the great outdoors explorer, environmental philosopher, wilderness preservationist, botanist, and naturalist, once said, “In every walk in nature one receives more than he gives” and that “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
Writers, philosophers, the men of science, and leading figures in our history have all said similar things. A life without taking time in the outdoors is a life lacking a fundamental connection.
Today’s exercise is one of the most straightforward approaches to active meditation there is. It is all about you, an excellent path, a trail, a nice bench overlooking a lake, or a long walk by the beach.
And this is all you need:
- Find an area where you can be, walk, hike, climb, jog for at least thirty minutes. The woods, a park, the beach, a trail that surrounds a lake. Anything where most of your visual experience can take in the colors of nature, the sounds of birds, your steps, water falling through rocks, or any other naturally occurring sounds.
- Try to find a path as natural as possible, even if it is an asphalt walkway, like those trails in most cities, with patches of greenery, where there is not too much exposure to cars or city life.
- Think about a retreat for your senses when you are looking for these places. These are thirty minutes where you are going to be taking in as much nature as possible.
- Once you find this place, take some water, and set the alarm for thirty minutes move.
- If you can’t walk as much, find a place where you can sit and enjoy the view.
That’s all you need for this exercise. Make sure you don’t carry a phone, and if you must have it for timekeeping, put it in airplane mode. Try to avoid needing to deal with calls, emails, or texts. These thirty minutes are for you and nature. Don’t be in a rush, and:
- Take in as much as you can from the surroundings.
- Listen to the sound of your feet as it crushes the leaves and moves pebbles around.
- Feel the sand and the water as they touch your body if you are walking by the beach.
- Listen to the waves as they made that small yet melodic crashing upon the rocks or the sand.
- Take all the time possible just to pay attention to nature’s details happening around you.
- And enjoy the process; let nature show you her beauty and magic.
Many years ago, I visited Canaima, In the Venezuelan Amazonian Rain Forest. We went upriver to camp near Angel’s Falls. We were there for a week, and one morning walking away from the Carrao river we hiked, for around four hours towards the bottom of the Falls.
What we found there was beyond my expectations, and the encounter with a jaguar during one night helped me have great respect for life in those regions. But we will leave that story for another time.
The beauty shaped in that region through millions of years of natural formation, moisture, water, and animal presence was matched only by the diversity of people I encounter on the way there.
I heard more than ten languages spoken as we moved through those incredible trees and huge wild plants—people from all over the world travel to such places in search of a bit of awe.
Exploring nature brings us a little closer together to each other, and it reminds us of how easy it is to turn our attention towards things that can help us share this wonderful planet.
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean”. John Muir