Here it is! My take on the best places to meditate.
I have a confession. I don’t want to tell you, because it’s a little bit embarrassing, but the card I drew this morning said I couldn’t be afraid to tell people things. So, here it is.
Most days? I meditate in bed.
I don’t even get out of bed. I wake up, do some journaling, and meditate, all before leaving bed (unless I need to pee, in which case I climb straight back into bed afterward).
I read recently that Winston Churchill used to work in bed until about 11am, so I tell myself it’s not that bad, but I still feel embarrassed by it. Because staying in bed is lazy and I should leap out of bed ready to start the day (or at least crawl out of bed to try to get stuff done).
I’ve said that the best time to meditate is when you’ll do it, and the same goes for the best place. Meditating first thing in the morning before I’ve even got out of bed starts my day off right and makes sure I don’t make an excuse to not do it later in the day.
But that doesn’t stop me imagining beautiful meditation rooms, gorgeous green spaces and vast mountain tops.
Look, every day doesn’t have to be full of beauty and atmosphere (though if it is, more power to you), but it’s good to change it up on occasion. Here are five places to try meditating, if you want a change of scenery and get a chance.
Yes, it’s vast. It includes just about everywhere ‘outside’, so there should be plenty of opportunity. I’m talking about wild nature here, though.
Most of nature has been touched by humans these days. Look for places that obviously don’t get a lot of human interference. A waterfall is perfect – you can put a path at the bottom, but there’s no changing the power of the falls. But anywhere a bit wild and untamed will do.
When you meditate, try to connect to the power of the place. See if you can sense the spirits that live there. Don’t use music, instead listen to the wind whistling by or the water hitting rocks. Let yourself become one with Mother Earth.
Now I’m talking about all those ‘outsides’ that have been made beautiful through human interference. Maybe it’s your own garden, overflowing with roses and lavender and bringing beautiful scents into play. Maybe it’s a botanic garden, or a manicured lawn beside a lake. Just look for somewhere that is beautiful to you.
Asian gardens seem to be especially adept at creating beautiful vistas, whether it’s a Japanese Zen Garden, or maybe Chinese gardens where every turn grants you a new scene of exquisite beauty.
We humans can coax beauty from the world in many ways, and it’s good to remember that sometimes. Again, listen to the wind flowing through leaves, perhaps a water feature, and bask in the beauty around you.
Beside a fire
The sound of a crackling fire speaks to a very ancient part of our souls and memories. Fire kept the darkness at bay, as well as all the things that could eat us. For all it’s destructive capability, fire was a life giver for early humans: dangerous and necessary.
If you have an open fireplace, or maybe a chiminea in your backyard, throw a log in and meditate in front of it. Listen to the fire crackle and the warmth wash over you.
You may find yourself in contact with salamanders – the spirits of the fire – or possibly find yourself back in ancient times, dancing in front of a fire with your ancestors.
At a retreat
Look, I haven’t done it, but I want to. When I do, I’ll totally report on it and let you know what it’s like.
Why go to a meditation retreat? Like everything, when you take some time out to concentrate solely on one skill, you’ll get better at it in leaps and bounds.
Add to that, you’ll probably learn some new techniques and meet people whose souls align with yours.
And lastly, research has shown that people who meditate with others synchronize brainwaves. There’s a kind of meditation by osmosis. Maybe a group isn’t in the cards for you right now, or you prefer meditating by yourself, but even a weekend away with other meditaters could truly enhance your practice.
At a sacred place
That thing about how meditating with others enhances your practice? Meditating at a sacred place can do the same. By sacred place I mean a church, temple or mosque, or a place in nature considered sacred or a place that pilgrims go.
This is something I have done. I went to a Catholic high school which was attached to a convent and had a beautiful chapel on the grounds, built by the nuns when they first arrived in Australia.
When it was first built the chapel was a place of Perpetual Adoration: one of the sisters was always in the chapel praying. This practice went on for many years, only stopping when there were too few nuns to continue.
On the 100th anniversary of the completion of the chapel, this practice was resurrected. All the girls in the school were scheduled a time slot to to sit in adoration – I think it was ten minutes.
I was already questioning my faith by that stage, but I knelt before the altar and prayed anyway, and it was like I could feel the generations of women who had done the same before me. The energy soaked into the stone of that building, and it was the closest I had ever felt to the Divine at that time.
Go to the church you grew up with, or a historical chapel, or a stop on a pilgrim’s path, and let the energy of seekers who came before you guide your meditation.
Also, try meditating in bed. I highly recommend it.
What’s your favourite place to meditate? Anywhere others should try? Let me know in the comments!