You Don't Have To Go Far To Benefit From Nature: How To Have A Sit Spot
The 'Sit Spot' is a spot in nature to connect, observe and study life.
It is an age-old dedicated technique used by many of the great teachers. Through this practice we can establish and anchor our relationship to nature so that no matter the conditions, we will remain grounded in our connection to life.
Research from around the world indicates that spending time in a natural setting provides a plethora of benefits; from lower blood pressure to strengthened immunity to an enhanced sense of well-being and happiness.
People who appreciate nature are happier, healthier and more innovative.
We intuitively know this. Now the trick is to act on what we know and get out into nature to reap all of those benefits. I’ve found that the practice of “Sit Spot” is one of the easiest ways to connect with nature.
Here’s the concept…find a place on your property, or perhaps at a nearby park and simply sit down, relax and just observe.
You too can spend time in your Sit Spot where you can simply be still and open your senses.
But where? How do you find the perfect place? And for how long?
An isolated bench beside a creek in your local forest or city park is wonderful, but so is your garden which you have lovingly tendered for years.
Don’t bring your cell phone.
Make your time at your sit spot distraction and technology free. Thirty minutes is a good length of time for sitting. However, you can start with just ten minutes. The longer you sit the more you’ll experience. The more you experience, the more you’ll learn. Don’t be surprised if you learn some interesting things about yourself during the process as well.
The ideal Sit Spot should have these qualities...
When you are just starting with the Sit Spot, find a spot that is easy to get to: not more than a few minutes from your door. Your own garden is perfect!
Most of us think we know our property or our favorite place in the park or woods pretty well, but this exercise might just change your mind. Sunrise and sunset are especially magical times.
Always wanted to have lunch at the local park near your office in summer? Also perfect!
The idea is that it needs to be easy and quick to get to.
Later, you may venture further to an alternate Sit Spot and experience the natural world differently.
It has nature
The point of the sit spot is to connect you to your local natural neighborhood.
There has to be some nature there, but not necessarily a lot.
You could use the satellite view of Google Maps to find the next promising location.
Below is a list of natural features to consider incorporating into your ideal sit spot.
- Water. All life needs it! And wild life will frequent spaces where there is water to drink. Most community parks and forests have either natural or man-made water features.
- Edge habitat. This is where two types of landscapes meet i.e. forest meets field, meadow meets stream, thicket meets trees. Often in the edges there is a lot happening.
- View. It helps if you are able to see at least several meters in front of you to have a perspective of the lay of the land.
- Cover. It’s great if you can blend into the landscape a bit. Lean up against a rock or a tree. An ideal sit spot would be on the edge of a meadow against the forest.
At your Sit Spot, it’s important to be able to expand your senses and let go of thinking. When thoughts arise, I invite you to come back to your senses; to the sounds, sights, smells, tastes and feel of the place. It is also the place where you put your cell phone away. You may be surrounded by people in a local park, but you’re not interacting with them. You will likely feel most comfortable and be able to get into the peaceful zone if you are out of the mainstream traffic. Having settled into my sit spot, I was able to pay attention to the birds in particular, to observe their habits as the creeks gurgled by over the seasons.
Make it safe
You need to be able to relax at your Sit Spot and feel safe. This is important to allow yourself to simply just be, observe and enjoy your ‘mindful’ nature practice. Feel invited by nature to expand your awareness and soak it all in. When you feel safe your Sit Spot practice will be something you will look forward to – having settled in, feel no guilt to have a nap!
"An experience for life!"
I invite you to release concern that you don’t have the perfect Sit Spot.
They’re all perfect, and none of them are perfect. Get to know one place really well, until you recognize the changes in animals and trees from one season and one year to the next, and you feel a deep appreciation for what you find there. Go to your Sit Spot at every time of day and in every season, and go no matter what the weather (well, almost). If you like to sketch or journal, be inspired by your Sit Spot!
I also invite you to release concern that you cannot go to your Sit Spot as much as you’d like to.
Go for as long as you can, or for a short time if that’s all you can. This is where having it close by helps a lot. Let it remind you of your place in the great circle of life and how your unique spirit is and always will be connected to all the splendor that surrounds you.
Find one place in nature that calls to you. Visit your place as often as you can and at different times of the day. You will get to know it really well and begin to recognize the changes around you from one season to the next. Allow yourself to find pleasure and feel a deep appreciation for what you discover. If you like to sketch or journal, be inspired by your Sit Spot!
better connection with nature