Nature is essential to our health and happiness, and yet we spend so much time cut off from it.
I was one of the worst offenders, until I got a wake-up call that I needed to make the effort to reconnect.
In our techno-world, we’re also starved for magic. The reason magical, mythical creatures such as mermaids and unicorns live entirely in nature is because that’s where all the nourishment and magic is.
I’m not disciplined at meditating, but here’s a simple form I do in nature to allow myself to just be there. I call it Starfish Meditation.
1. Find a spot in nature where you can stand uninterrupted for 3-5 minutes.
2. Spread your legs and put your hands on your hips, making a starfish formation with your body. If weather and warmth allows, do this barefoot.
3. Close your eyes and breathe gently, noticing your breath when you can.
4. Thoughts will come but no need to resist or change them. Just let them drift along.
5. Whenever your mind gets too busy, listen to the sounds of nature—crickets chirping, bird song and the rustling sounds of unseen creatures.
6. If a jet flies overhead, listen to that as if it’s also a nature sound. This avoids the stress that would happen if you reacted negatively to the jet noise.
7. If you judge anything, just let that happen too . . . and then go back to listening to nature.
8. Your breath connects you to all of it. Keep breathing gently. Occasionally you may draw a deeper breath that feels like a wonderful release. Let this happen; don’t try to make it happen.
9. Awareness can also connect you more deeply. Our minds are so habitually busy that sometimes awareness can be elusive. When this happens during my star meditation, I focus on my feet and remind myself that I’m standing directly on the Earth (as opposed to cement, carpet, the floor of my car, etc).
10. After you’ve done this nature meditation a few times, you can take deeper breaths that expand your lower belly. If you don’t try to rush it, it will be as natural as nature.
Afterwards, you may feel very relaxed and slowed down. Or you may feel creative (and you may even want to write). If you don’t have pressing business, try to go with either the relaxed state or the creative state and do what the feeling suggests.
Sometimes after my starfish meditation, I feel a subtle sense of euphoria. This makes you want to do it more often. You don’t have to be an experienced meditator and it doesn’t have to take a long time to get there. If you do this outdoors and do it often enough—several times a week if possible—you can reach a light state of euphoria in five to seven minutes.
After practicing starfish meditation for a few days, you may begin to notice a change in how you feel. Your stress triggers won’t be activated quite as quickly. And you may laugh or chuckle at things that would normally take you down (even while noticing that you don’t like what’s happening). One of the changes I noticed was that I no longer woke up grumpy. Now I wake up either feeling content or feeling like I want to sing.