Thursday, 5 April 2007

Landscape Meditation

These are notes about a meditation I performed in May 2006 whilst up on my favourite hill, Croft Ambrey, in Herefordshire. I think I had driven up from Bedfordshire in the middle of the night and walked up onto the hill in the early light of the morning. I found myself in sunshine on the top of the hill, on a grassy bank, beside a hawthorn tree. I made brief notes afterwards about what I had thought and did at the time and I have rewritten them here as an outline. They could be used as a guide to performing an outdoor meditation anywhere.

Find a place in which you want to perform the meditation. Approach it with a welcoming heart and make yourself comfortable. Take a few minutes to take in the landscape: view, trees, sounds, smells etc. What is the weather like? Warm, cool? Clouds? Listen to sounds: birds, animals, breeze, distant human activity. You have come to a place. This is now your place of being. Go and look for something that inspires you in the place: twig, flowers, stone etc (but don't necessarily touch it). Breath in the air - the earth has given you this as a gift.

We all have questions. Be open, think about what you seek inspiration or guidance for - not direct petitionary prayers. Ask to be shown something. Use landscape features as a guide e.g. path (for direction, distractions, clarity, journeying, following...)

Take a closer look around you at an element in the landscape and focus on it more deeply:

Notice its leaves, bark, branches... How is its shape formed? How do the branches exist in three dimensions (why don't they keep touching?). Look for patterns. Feel leaves: textures, how they interact with the light - patterns, shadows, colours; they give life, soft, delicate (even if tree thorny) Any insects? Think about stability, firm foundations, roots, soil, age, belonging in the landscape, strong, immovable (yet can be cut down by man in afew minutes). Fragility of life - we can take it away. Photosynthesis. Without plants humans would die. Size, shape, alone or with others. Shadows. It is rooted to one spot yet we are free - free to run, jump, lie down in grass. Do that! Feel the dew, wet. Look for other plants or evidence of animals, insects (sheep, rabbits, swuirrels, mice, butterflies). RUN AND PLAY: allow and feel the freedom (if safe to do so). Just BE. No phones, TV or computer, or perceptions of what people may think of you.

How will you leave the place? Emotions: happier, sad, indifferent. Your choice. Would you take anything - or just everything as you found it. You have freedom to go in whatever direction you want - but you will most likely retreat to the security of what you know or are responsible for (home, work, family). What is freedom, or the ultimate freedom? Go out again to find something that inspires you. Is it easier? Has you view changed about what you see around you?

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