What's a perfect place to meditate?
Updated: May 15
It's true that a beautiful environment can help mindful practice but it's also important to develop the ability to use mindful practice to help ourselves in everyday life.
The ultimate practice environment is only partly about place. A place can be familiar, quiet and peaceful, or somewhere noisy with unexpected disturbances. In fact, especially when one is practising mindfulness of sounds and thoughts, it is often easier if there are actually some sounds to listen to. When I am sitting in silence, I can practise noticing my thoughts and feelings about this - my tendency to want things to be varied and my discomfort with anything that is simply neutral. Boredom is also interesting to sit with, once I acknowledge it is there. If I am listening to a guided meditation, then the teacher is also an important element as they create the atmosphere. There are times when I like to hear the soft tone of Tara Brach's voice, and others when Mark Williams' homely English voice seems perfect. They both provide a welcoming space within which it is possible to sit with thoughts and emotions.
One of my favourite places to meditate in my home is our lovely Garden Room, a room at the end of my garden surrounded my trees, with internet, my meditation cushions and blanket, all our books and a heater, (and a curiously lovely smell!).
But at the moment we have visitors - four baby foxes who frolic fearlessly around the tree just outside our room, and an occasional view of a parent. Somehow they have created their den underneath our room, and can be heard making very loud bangs every so often. Goodness knows what they are doing! So my usual peaceful space now has sudden noises coming from below. I am trying to see these as a parallel for when disturbing thoughts suddenly arise unexpectedly. Can I simply notice the sound and as best as possible just be with it as a bang and vibration, and let go the various thoughts that accompany the sounds? We have actually just sprayed the area with garlic and chilli water, in the hope the foxes will leave. (A google search suggested this could work!) In the meantime, my meditation space is not quite the idyll it was, but an excellent place to practise nevertheless.
You might like to read more about how bringing satisfaction to difficult situations can help in my 'This is It!' mindfulness blog.
Some meditations invite us to imagine certain things, such as the Mountain meditation, when we picture ourselves as a mountain, staying calm and abiding whatever arises, with dignity and grace. People often enjoy this meditation, as we can transport ourselves to special places in our minds - just remembering my days in the Himalayas makes me relax and smile!