Tilda Swinton as the title character in the film adaptation of Virginia’s Woolf Orlando

I am not a Buddhist, but that traditional meditation was the first kind I studied way back in 2002. As the years passed and I grew spiritually I realized I needed to create my own style of meditation; but one thing I still love about Buddhism is the way it includes Nature in the spiritual experience. To wit…

“During his quest for enlightenment, after six years of arduous and ultimately unsuccessful ascetic practice, the Buddha recalled a memory from childhood. He was sitting under a rose apple tree, watching his father plow fields ceremonially. As the setting sun sank low across the horizon, he felt perfectly content, his mind serene and naturally concentrated. His heart was at ease, resting in the simple pleasure of being present.

Recalling that moment, the Buddha realized that perhaps the way to seek enlightenment was not through self-mortification, but rather through that relaxed, concentrated mind and ease of well-being. Soon after, he renounced ascetic austerities, resumed his meditation practice, and attained full realization. As we study the Buddha’s teachings on our own path to enlightenment, we might benefit my taking note that he first discovered this natural ease of mind in nature, where it is so readily available.

The peace and tranquility of nature can be tremendously supportive of our meditative journey. In that moment in the fields as a young boy, the Buddha spontaneously entered “samadhi",” a balanced, tranquil, concentrated heart and mind. This essential meditative quality - which helps counter “monkey mind,” the tendency to be scattered, distracted and restless - is deeply relaxing and nourishes one’s whole being.

In contrast to our busy, thinking mind, the calm, focused state of samadhi enables us to see clearly. When we turn this lucidity toward understanding our human predicament, it shows us where we aren’t living in alignment with the truth and where we are causing unnecessary pain for ourselves and others. Insights that arise out of samadhi are like secret keys that unlock doors to freedom. Emerging from a mind that is calm and purified, such awareness has deep roots, grows strong, and transforms our lives.

As we see in the Buddha’s childhood experience, contact with the natural world can help grow this quality of samadhi.”

- Mark Coleman, Awake In The Wild

See also Experiment With the Idea podcast #2 - NATURE.