Navigate these uncertain and unsettling times with this open-eyed, open-senses meditation to ground, center, and enliven you reconnecting with the natural world.
These uncertain times can make many of us feel ungrounded, unsettled, and lost. Sometimes, the best thing we can do when things are changing is to sit still. Like the center of a hurricane, being still and listening can often lead us to more peace and calm. Nature can also be a good ally to help us do this and reorient when feeling disoriented.
When we can combine the two—meditation and nature—we can not only access a sense of ground amid ungroundedness, but also a feeling of belonging to something bigger than ourselves. This is a wise way to navigate these times.
As an author and an artist, I understand nature and mindfulness. Every morning, I create impermanent art from material I discover in nature, which I call Morning Altars. In my book, Morning Altars: A 7-Step Practice to Nourish Your Spirit Through Nature, Art, and Ritual, I offer readers an open-eyed, open-senses meditation that can ground, center, and enliven you.
Before I create my art, I sit outside and connect to the place I'm in as a way of also connecting to myself. I encourage you to go outside wherever you are—even if that's a backyard, park, stoop, or roof—and practice the following meditation. Just try it once, or every day, and see how you feel afterward.
A Place Meditation
Set a timer, or just go for as long as you want.
Take your seat.
Just let your body meet the Earth.
Feel the weight and gravity pulling you closely to her.
Perhaps even imagine you have roots emerging from your tailbone,
and they begin to descend into the deep dark soil.
Let your skin take this place in.
Notice the temperature on your arms.
Notice if there is any breeze upon your face.
Is the sunlight bringing heat to your body?
Let your ears take this place in.
Do you hear the wind rustling the trees,
Or the buzzing of any insects,
Or perhaps the sound of a distant dog bark,
Or humans speaking?
Let your nose take in this place.
Feel the air enter your nostrils.
What does this place smell like?
Do the trees give off their spicy scent?
Does the ocean have a particular smell?
Or maybe you are in a place that also carries the scent of human-made machines.
Where does this smell transport you?
Let your eyes take in this place and zoom wide.
Soften your gaze and take in the entire place.
The contours of her landscape,
the colors that appear in your gaze,
the shadows dancing all around you,
the place where the sky meets the Earth.
What is moving?
What stays still?
Do you see anyone watching you?
Let your eyes take in the place and get focused.
Narrow your gaze and focus on one thing.
Maybe it’s the texture of the bark right in front of you,
Or one single blade of grass recently cut.
Let your eyes notice all the details.
The color of that particular thing.
Its shape and movement.
How unique and utterly itself it is.
Spend one more moment beholding this place.
Let it change before you.
Witness the light come and go.
Consider how long this place has looked the way it does.
Who else was here yesterday?
Or last year?
Or 100 years ago?
Or 10,000 years ago?
Or 10 million years ago?
Let yourself wonder what this place may be after you leave it.
Once again, feel yourself sitting in this spot,
your body meeting the Earth’s body.
Feel those roots of yours.
Still reaching far down into the body of that place.
Sense how grounded
and present you are.
Give thanks for this place,
in the way you know how.
For the more you can sense her aliveness,
the more you can sense your own.
Let yourself slowly rise to your feet and walk from that place,
still aware that you’re walking.
An excerpt from Morning Altars: A 7-Step Practice to Nourish Your Spirit through Nature, Art and Ritual (The Countryman Press) by Day Schildkret.
(Day has just released a stop-motion animation film based on creating these impermanent mandalas in nature. Watch it below and.)