One of the many methods we use at Nomad that promotes a connection to nature is the discovery and use of a 'sit spot'. This process consists of constructively seeking a location to sit with only the intention of being peaceful, and then revisiting this spot at regular intervals – perhaps once a week is a good place to start if you want to take it on as a practice. It may incorporate having a good view, it might be in your back garden, it may involve a tree to which you feel a connection to, it might even be hidden away behind shrubbery in a park where nobody else will disturb you!
The idea behind a sit-spot is for you to have a comfortable and familiar place to retreat to in order to connect with nature but also somewhere to go to contemplate, meditate or write/draw. On our retreats, the participants will be invited to visit their sit-spot at certain times during their time at camp – to explore new ideas on their own, to work on a craft task, to journal, to contemplate and to relax or to have some alone time.
Regular visits to a sit-spot help you foster a connection to the immediate surroundings of your sit spot and you become familiar with the features and creatures that inhabit that area. It is also proven that the wildlife grow accustomed to a regular visitor and in some cases accept them into 'their world'. I have heard of regular sitters who have become such a part of the landscape for the animals, that the birds have begun landing on them whilst sitting in their spot, and in one case a regular sitter had a daily encounter with a badger who would come and visit them.
Once you have found your spot, I invite you to sit and just ‘be’ - easier said than done I know! Sit with your eyes open and to observe the goings on in this little community around you. Maybe you see the birds flitting from one branch to the next, maybe it is the bugs busily working away on the earth, maybe it is the trees swaying, the leaves drifting – whatever it is, these things are to be observed and not overly intellectualised. Don't try and work stuff out or try and remember the names of things, just be witness to the goings on of nature. Begin with 5 minutes of observing and increase the time if you feel comfortable, if your mind starts to drift or you find it difficult to focus on the things around you then try describing what you see as if you are talking to someone who cannot see the wonders around you.
After a few initial visits to your sit spot, with just being and seeing as your intention, you could maybe try something different. I now invite you to try and sense the 'pulse' of the environment in which you are sitting and to match your breathing to that pulse. This often means slowing down your regular breathing pattern, and in doing so brings a deeper awareness to your own body, also part of the natural environment! You might need to engage your imaginal senses a little bit with this task. This means blending what you receive through your senses of sight, touch, hearing etc, with strands of imagination in order to enhance your experience. It is sometimes difficult to know if you are sensing something or inventing it, but often we have a more enjoyable time when we engage with that aspect of ourselves. Conversely it might feel very obvious to you what that pulse of nature feels like or there is an obvious marker e.g waves on a beach. Either way, there is no right or wrong answer - go with what feels right for you, and enjoy.
I found this little video on YouTube and Jonathan here describes sit spots well and obviously enjoys his time sitting. He has inspired me to visit my sit spot on a more regular basis and over the next two weeks I will visit my sit spot every day. I will put a small daily entry on the Nomad Fireside Facebook group if you want to follow along.
Let me know how you get on with this task. I love hearing back from you and finding ways of improving my explanation for things. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org or drop a comment below or in the Facebook group. Have a good one! Tom x