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Ever Try Meditating While Camping or Hiking?

Approximately 2,500 years ago, a strange, wandering bald guy named Siddhārtha Gautama took a break from a long walk to sit down under a Bodhi tree somewhere in Northern India.

He sat under that tree for 49 days, barely moving, until he achieved a state of calm, meditative relaxation he called “enlightenment.”  Then, satisfied with himself, he stood up, left the woods, and spent the next 45 years traveling across the Indian subcontinent, teaching thousands of his disciples this practice of meditation, which he proclaimed was the antidote to much of the suffering of the world.

That guy was the Buddha and his teaching was Buddhism, a religion that today is followed by over 300 million people across the world.

Over the last few years, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon of Buddhist meditation, practicing on my own for an hour each day and even attending a 10-day meditation retreat.  The results have left me with a calmer, clearer, more disciplined mind.

Recently, I’ve taken my practice outside, meditating in the woods just off of a trail in a local natural park.  In doing so, I’ve realized that meditating outside is liberating, yet frustrating at the same time.  On the plus side, you have the soothing sounds of nature, chirping birds, wind rustling through leaves, sun warming on your face.  However, those positives can also be negatives, as they can distract from the focus that meditation takes.

Regardless, through my own experiences, I’ve found numerous ways to adjust and make outdoor meditation an enjoyable part of my camping and hiking experiences.  Here are a few tips if you’re interested in getting Zen in the outdoors.

1.  Find a Good Spot

One of the keys to a successful meditation practice is finding a spot free of distractions, and that can be particularly tricky outside.  Try to find a place off the beaten path, where you won’t be disturbed by hikers or campers.  You’ll also want to make sure the ground you’re sitting on is dry and free of bugs.  Be on the lookout for a rock or log that might work well. If you can’t find any good location, consider doing a walking meditation.

2. Tune Out The Rustling

When you’re meditating outdoors, you’re bound to hear thousands of sounds.  Crickets will chirp, squirrels will be in a frenzy, occasionally you may hear even hear the sounds of a dear trampling through the woods.  It’s crucial that you don’t let these sounds hijack your concentration and continue to focus on your breath.

3.  Set a Timer

One of the challenges for beginning meditators is often how long to sit for.  To combat this, sit a timer on your cellphone or watch from anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on your experience level.

4. But wait, I don’t know how to meditate, what do I do?

If you’re a newbie to the whole meditation field, check out this nifty tutorial from Wiki How, which gives you some basic instructions.  There are dozens if not hundreds of methods, but at the root of many is concentrating on the sensations of your breath coming in and out of the your body.  If you’re able to do this successfully, you should be able to free your mind of external thoughts, anxieties, fears, etc.

Do you have any experience meditating outdoors?  Let us know what’s worked for you in the comment section below.