Grieving For and Loving Our Planet

Wilderness expert and renowned mindfulness teacher Mark Coleman shares how he is learning to hold the intense beauty of nature—and devastation of climate change—in his mindfulness practice.

Aaron Keigher/Getty Images

It has been a long day at my desk, staring at a computer; my brain cells feel wrung dry with too much cogitation. Late afternoon, the fog has lifted on the hilltops above my house and I decide to venture out on a hike to clear my head and connect with what I love most: this pulsing earth. 

As I start out on one my favorite trails, it takes a while for my senses to open up, but soon I feel embraced into a luminous world, welcomed by innumerable shades of green, tall grasses shimmering, trees swaying in the breeze, and shafts of sunlight peering through the thick canopy. Below me, a family of quail dart in and out of the bushes. 

As I crest the hill, I feel the invigoration of the cool wind, blown in fresh from the Pacific. I inhale deeply and smell the bite of the salty ocean air, which feels like a homecoming, familiar and welcoming. It seems to blow the dullness from my mind, and I sense how nature invites us to connect and feel our way into a larger sense of self. 

We tend to think of consciousness as skin bound, brain tethered.…

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About the author

Mark Coleman

Mark Coleman is the author of Make Peace with Your Mind and Awake in the Wild. He is the founder of the Mindfulness Institute and has an MA in Clinical Psychology. Mark has guided students on five continents as a corporate consultant, counselor, meditation teacher, and wilderness guide. He lives in Northern California. Visit him online at