A Quick Tip to Take Your Mindfulness Practice Outside

Mindfulness teacher and author Mark Coleman shares how tapping into your five senses can help you connect with the natural world around you, even if you live in a city.

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Q

I want to take my mindfulness practice outside, but I live in an urban area and I’m kind of a wimp about bad weather—so I just end up staying inside, and I feel like I’m missing out.

A

I’ve witnessed in myself and others how contact with the natural world brings a sense of peace, greater perspective, profound joy and wonder, and a deeper connection with life in all its forms. Still, being in nature is not necessarily a bed of roses. Being outdoors in less than comfortable conditions asks us to dig a little deeper into our resources and our equanimity, and to cut through the delusions of the mind with compassion and humor.

Even in cities we cannot ignore how nature is always teaching us about interconnection, selflessness, and impermanence. We are never far from the changing seasons, the waxing and waning of the moon, or starry nights reminding us of a vast universe. Our houses are made from forests; our clothing is made from wool; and even this magazine was once a tree with roots deep in the earth. 

Each day, you can practice bringing awareness to one of the five senses as a portal into the present. Consciously take time to look at the life-giving buds and blossoms emerging on the trees in spring. Listen to the birdsong of hardy, wintering birds in the morning. Smell the freshness of the air after rains moisten the earth. Sense the softness beneath your bare feet as you walk on spring grass. Nature reminds us that this moment is always precious, alive, and abundant. It invites us to wake up, to be here for this fleeting, magnificent display, to appreciate, love, and protect, and then to let go as blossoms fade and grasses wither, and trust in the vast cycles of life that are constantly revealing themselves—whatever the weather.

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