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Awake in the Wild
we're in a pristine rainforest or our own backyard, says MARK COLEMAN, nature is always
available to deepen our mindfulness.
I moved from England to the U.S., I fell in love with America's vast
wilderness and bountiful areas of natural beauty. As a longtime
meditator, I had spent many years practicing indoors in meditation
halls. But it wasn't until I began exploring the natural terrain here
that I began to see what an invaluable support nature can be for our
hearts, our minds, and our overall well-being. Seeking this support, I
have spent much of the past two decades in an exploration of the
relationship between meditation and nature. This has taken me to remote
places in Alaska, ancient sandstone canyons in the southwest, and the
rugged beauty of the Sierra Nevada.
matter where I’ve traveled, I've received valuable teachings along the
way. I've learned how nature allows for mindfulness to develop
effortlessly and spontaneously. I’ve witnessed in myself and others how
contact with the natural world brings a sense of peace, greater
perspective, profound joy and wonder, and a deeper connection with life
in all its forms. Being in nature in a contemplative way, especially
when we are alone, provides the perfect arena to explore our mind and
our interrelationship with the world.
I went solo backpacking in the eastern Sierra, a place that is beloved
to so many backpackers. I walked up to high-altitude lakes where barely a
soul had been since the winter snowmelt and I entered a pristine realm
that reflected back the purity and luminous clarity of mind. The air was
crisp and clean, and the water dazzled. Spending time in environments
such as these allows the mind to dwell in a spacious lucidity that
contrasts with the stuffiness of many meditation halls. Of course, the
mind can touch these realms of clarity anywhere, even in a New York
subway, but it’s a delight to see how the natural world so effortlessly
invites spacious qualities to emerge.
said, as anyone who knows the wilderness is aware, it’s never a bed of