I sit outside, settling down to spend a few minutes doing my morning meditation, and find myself pondering how valuable this now familiar experience has been during the lockdown. I set my timer for 10 minutes. The light breeze still has a little bite to it in early April, but being able to see the whole sky with all the morning colours and clouds makes it worth sitting outside on this rather chilly rock.
Closing my eyes, I notice immediately my mind becoming thrilled by the sounds of nature around me. I hear my hens making their morning noises. A seagull calls overhead. Something is moving in the hedgerow where I’d seen a rabbit just a few moments before. The sounds of the waves create a constantly rising and falling background to the soundscape. I notice my internal body sensations begin to settle and my mind becoming peaceful. I notice myself thinking that this is good. I'm lost in thought for a few moments.
I bring my attention back, perhaps a little sharply, to the business of meditation. I focus now on my breath, noticing the sensations in my chest and belly as each inhalation expands my body. I feel a slight thrill at the sensation of the cool air filling my lungs with one particular inhalation. I savour the dropping, sinking and relaxing feeling of my body that comes with each exhalation.
My attention shifts and again I find myself listening to the chorus of nature sounds around me – the excited squawks of a family of curlews on the beach, and the plaintiff cry of a pheasant in a nearby field – but this time I hear the sounds of my breath as part of the whole cacophony. I have a feeling of also belonging in this rich soundscape that surrounds me. As I absorb that thought, I feel a deep sense of attunement as my breath mirrors the sounds of the waves.
I shift my attention to feeling the sensations of gravity holding my body. The rock I'm sitting on feels hard, even painful in places. I can make out its shape where it touches my body. I feel the coolness and the stillness in this rock. For a moment, I open my eyes to take in the whole of the outcrop that this rock is just the very topmost part of. I see the whirls of lichen in golden, green and yellow hues on its surface. I notice that small plants are clinging and nestling in every crevice where they can get a purchase against the coastal winds. Closing my eyes, I notice my mind wondering how deep the rock goes. I imagine it reaching down into the mantle. I notice my body settle and my feet sink into the ground a little bit. Another wave of belonging comes over me. I feel deeply that somehow I’m no longer separate from this landscape, I’m part of it, enveloped and held by it.
I savour these sensations until my mind becomes drawn to sudden sensations of coolness on my arm. Ah, this is not such a pleasant feeling. My thoughts orientate to the source of the discomfort. I realise the breeze has picked up. I notice my whole body jolts with a sudden urge to go indoors, and I get a sense that my biochemistry has changed slightly as a surge of adrenaline prepares me to move. I notice this urge but I do not move. Practice and experience have taught me that this will happen at least once during my meditation. The human, house-dwelling part of me wants to do what it knows best – to go indoors. But the part of me that relishes feeling that I am equally a part of this landscape, chooses to stay – listening, sensing and observing the whole panoply of my experience, both internal and external. A question arises along with the sun from behind a cloud – is there really a difference between inside and outside?
The timer on my wrist gently buzzes. I walk mindfully to the door to begin another day of Zoom calls, heart open and grateful for the grace and companionship of nature.
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