In fact, you can easily turn the outdoors into your very own meditation studio by simply focusing on aspects of nature and conscious movement while using your breath and imagination.
Whether you’re looking for a sense of peace or a clearer mind, one of these meditations could be your ticket to a happy summer.
Important note: Before starting any new exercise program, consult your doctor. Stop immediately if you feel pain.
1. Walking meditations
If you’re walking on a track, you focus on one thing you’re grateful for in round one, then move on to something else you’re grateful for in round two and so on. If you’re walking on a sidewalk, you can focus on one item during each block you cover.
Another form of meditation is visualization. When you walk, transport yourself to a quiet, relaxing place. For example, as you stroll through the streets of a noisy city or through the quiet streets of your neighborhood, you can imagine yourself in a lounge chair on the sand by the water’s edge. Feel your feet in the sand, the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. Focus on feeling relaxed and calm as you walk and notice how the body feels lighter and more flexible in motion.
2. Olfactory meditation
The outdoors in the summer is filled with the scents of fresh flowers, trees, freshly cut grass and bodies of water. For this meditation, sit next to one of these natural elements and settle into a comfortable position. Sitting cross-legged with your hands resting on your knees or knees is the traditional meditation position, but feel free to sit on a bench or even lean against a tree.
From there, inhale through your nose and breathe in the scent of nature around you. After inhaling, pause and hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale through your nose or mouth to release the breath and smell. As you inhale, begin a count of four, hold for two, then exhale for a count of four. Repeat this breathing pattern for 60 seconds to 60 minutes.
3. Breathing meditation
This breath meditation uses the breath to help focus the mind and can be done in motion. So try this simple breath work whether you’re walking, running or sitting.
Inhale through your nose and focus on a word that is a positive representation of how you feel. This word could be “good”, “relaxed”, “happy” or even “proud”. Maybe you are proud of yourself for going out!
Then, as you exhale through your mouth, think about letting go of any feelings that are the opposite of that positive feeling. It can be stress, anger or anxiety. Repeat this breathing pattern and word association for the duration of your time outdoors.
Enhance your time in nature this summer with one of these outdoor meditations.
Stephanie Mansour, host of “Step It Up With Steph” on PBS, is a health and wellness journalist and weight loss consultant and coach for women.