When was the last time you sat alone in your garden or some other place in nature for 20min without your digital device? or without having a goal or expectation in mind? Just you and nature.
I would like to introduce you to one of the most fundamental practices for nurturing nature connection, its known simply as the Sit Spot, which as the name suggests, is a spot where you go to sit in nature. It is believed to have originated from a Native American practice and although it is incredibly simple, it holds the potential to create lasting positive change in your life.
By the end of this blog you will know;
Why the Sit Spot is more important than ever before.
How to go about creating your own Sit Spot practice
Some of the benefits you can expect from the experience.
So let’s get into it “Why should you try the sit spot practice?”
These days, so many people would rather engage with ‘screen time’, instead of heading outdoors to connect with nature. Who can blame them? Our digital devices and their mesmerising screens are extremely efficient at keeping us engaged by feeding us a constant stream of information.
When we are connected with 'screen time' we are disconnected from other people, nature and ourselves.
This disconnect has increased exponentially in recent years and has a negative effect on your wellbeing, which if not managed correctly can lead to conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress and overwhelm. Let's face it, many of us experience these conditions in some form or another.
Perhaps you can relate?
The trouble is, we often don't fully recognise it until its too late. 'Screen time' does such a good job at keeping us hooked, engaged and separated from our inner and outer environment. I am totally guilty of this too. It's so easy to get sucked into a Youtube Wormhole or a social media Scroll Hole.
They are attention traps!
The good news is that there is an antidote to ‘screen time’, which I like to call ‘green time’, all you have to do is step away from the screen and into the green. It sounds simple right? But I know that in reality it can be incredibly difficult, the force is strong in those digital devices.
The Sit Spot offers an easy step towards more ‘green time’.
Here are some steps to help make it as easy as possible for you to get going.
Step 1: How to find your sit spot in nature.
To start with, your Sit Spot will most likely be somewhere in your garden, if you don’t have a garden then perhaps a seat by a window with a view.
Once you get into the practice you may start to venture further to places that offer more nature, such as your local park, woodland or nature reserve.
Your Sit Spot location must have natural features and should be:
Somewhere you can visit daily or as much as possible.
Convenient and easy to access.
Somewhere you feel safe and comfortable.
A practical place to sit.
Step 2: How to do a Sit Spot practice
It's important to be comfortable, make sure you dress appropriately for the expected weather conditions that day.
It's a good idea to carry a Nature Journal for recording your thoughts, insights or anything that you noticed externally or internally that day.
Now that you are in your Sit Spot, it's best to prepare by consciously letting go of any thoughts, concerns or anything that may have been demanding your attention that day.
To achieve this, I like to do what I call the Alive in Five process. It awakens the senses and helps to bring you into the present for a deeper experience. You can listen to it here.
Now that you are fully present, start by simply observing your surroundings by gazing with a soft fascination.
Open yourself up to being a witness to the scene.
Are there any birds, bugs or animals?
What are they doing?
What about the sky, is it clear or cloudy?
Is the wind blowing or is it still?
It’s really just about being CURIOUS.
Notice what has changed since your last Sit Spot session, or perhaps what hasn’t changed.
You will no doubt have experiences that work effortlessly and others may be more challenging. The monkey mind likes to interfere. If you get stuck or feel like you’re being sucked back into the to do list, bring yourself back by focusing on your breath or working through your senses one at a time.
What can you hear?
What do you smell?
What can you see?
This practice builds on itself. It is advisable to return to a regular spot so you can get to know the place and the place can get to know you. You may notice patterns in nature or perhaps start to understand the different bird calls and how they communicate with each other.
To benefit most from the experience it is best to allow for at least 20 to 30minutes. By taking a seat and remaining still, you reduce the disturbance to the place and over time the wildlife will see that you are not a threat.
Benefits of the Sit Spot
The benefits of a Sit Spot practice work on three levels; mental, physical and spiritual.
Looking first at mental and physical wellbeing, studies show that spending time in nature improves mood, reduces stress, anxiety and depression. It also boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure and improves quality of sleep.
If you would like to access some of the science and studies, go here.
Then there is the spiritual wellbeing. This is something deeper and more difficult to measure.
When you are comfortable with the Sit Spot experience and the wildlife becomes comfortable with you, you are more able to achieve a state which I like to call; Consciously Connected. This is a state where you are fully present to the experience, you could say that it's that moment when your thinking turns to a feeling.
When you are Consciously Connected to Nature you remember that you are part of Nature, something much bigger. When this happens, something awakens deep down inside of you. That piece of you has many names; your being, spirit or True Nature.
As children we are connected to and easily express our True Nature. As we grow up we get conditioned into the world and in the process we lose touch and get separated from our True Nature.
We need to rebuild our connection to our true nature, and as we do life takes on new meaning and purpose. This nourishes us on a deep level which ultimately leads to living a more fulfilled life.
Are you ready to give it a go?
Although it may not be a complete solution, the Sit Spot practice really does carry potential for creating profound positive change by elevating the state of our mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
With all of that said, it's best to drop any expectations. Some days will most likely be better than others. If you focus on being present and allow the experience to unfold as it should there will always be a positive benefit.
I can say that the Sit Spot played an important role for me during the hard lockdown in 2020. It's where I received loads of inspiration for creating Awaken to Nature.
I challenged my wife Jo to a Sit Spot challenge, 21 minutes for 21days. You can read about her experience here.
Other than that, let us know how you get on with trying out the Sit Spot and please do feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any queries.