Outdoor meditation is an excellent way to improve mental health, reduce anxiety and lessen stress. The use of nature and outdoor space in meditation has been proven to yield major health benefits. Beyond just the physical impacts of lower blood pressure and other cardiovascular benefits—like what comes along with most exercise—meditation can leave you with an enhanced sense of energy and a better mood. Over time, engaging in such activities can lead to better overall health.
According to EHE Doctor Fatima Hussain, the physical and mental benefits of outdoor meditation are significant. She explains that many studies have demonstrated that exposure to nature reduces anxiety and alleviates stress. In addition, fresh air and the vitamin D you’ll enjoy when spending time outside boost immunity and mood. According to Harvard Health, this powerful vitamin is known to help with everything from osteoporosis to heart attacks and depression. Natural light has the added benefit of improving your outlook, so being out during the daytime can be great for your mental health. Some studies even suggest that time spent in nature can help with attention-deficiency issues and focus. Researchers also believe that exposure to sunlight helps you to heal faster after surgery or an injury.
While indoor meditation is also excellent for your health and well-being, Dr. Hussain explains that practicing outdoor mediation is associated with greater feelings of regeneration and energy. According to some expert yogis, it’s actually easier to practice mindfulness when you’re outdoors because nature inherently calls to one’s contemplative sides. However, if you are unable to venture outside due to extreme weather or other inhospitable conditions, indoor meditation is still a solid choice.
The National Institutes of Health recommend meditation as a way for generally healthy people—or those with permission from their doctors—to boost immunity and heal from existing ailments. It is believed to help cancer patients with many of the side effects they suffer. In addition, those experiencing IBS, anxiety, pregnancy or menopause may find meditation beneficial. Improvements to these conditions can further lead to the betterment of mental health. Patients experiencing a sense of healing and restoration after meditating tend to see their moods improve. This can act as a cycle that builds on itself over time.
Beyond outdoor meditation itself, there are a variety of exercises that yield meditative benefits. For instance, Dr. Hussain explains, yoga and tai chi offer the combined impacts of meditation and movement. Put together, these can be influential in encouraging relaxation. Hatha yoga, which focuses on breath-controlled exercises followed by a series of poses and then a rest period, encourages practitioners to push themselves physically while keeping their minds at ease.
Tai chi has similar benefits, including a better mood, lower levels of depression and enhanced energy. In addition, patients with chronic heart failure who practice tai chi sleep better and enjoy an improved quality of life, according to research conducted by Harvard Medical School. Sleep quality and a boosted immunity are also known effects of tai chi.
Over 600 research studies conducted on meditation agree that it has the power to improve mental health, from depression to schizophrenia to PTSD and ADHD. By practicing this healing art outdoors and harnessing the additional power of mindfulness that nature tends to provide, you can experience a tremendous boost to your mental health.