I remember my first time...
I was standing in the parking lot. Not that many cars or people here at this hour.
I had driven up here, instead of taking my bike, probably because it was so much easier to quickly be in and out. If it didn't feel right, not safe, I could just get back in my car and drive off.
The sky was a whitish colour. Through the bare branches I saw a watery sun peering through, as a faint invitation.
I had been wanting to do this for a long time, not sure what exactly was pulling me in. After a while I started to wonder why I didn't, and that's when I found my mum's voice: "Be careful, there are creepy men there.." Not much drama, just a quietly stated sentence, with a lot of fear in between and around the words.
So I had started to wonder if this was a truth or something else. I checked with my husband for an outside view on this. He was a little baffled, a little bemused, when he encouraged me to go, saying: "you'll be fine".
So here I was, standing next to my car and looking into the forest. Time to go in. I walked a bit up the main path and let my feet guide me. After 10 minutes or so, I took a smaller path, and a smaller one yet, and started to look around for a good spot.
I tried one spot -- too visible from the cyclists path. Then another -- too many pine cones in the way.
When I finally sat down, I was sitting on a tiny hill (that's all we have in Holland), under a large pine tree, facing an opening in the woods.
Now what? I started to hear the birds first. Different birds, different songs. Nice. Then I heard the traffic from the nearby road. Not so nice. Dogs barking from the kennel up the road. Hmmm... The birds again. Nice.
It hit me that this was the moment to "start." But how? It took me a little time to translate my indoor practice into this outdoor environment.
I caught myself looking behind me quickly when I hear a sound. It turned out to be a mountain biker on the path further down, not even noticing me. But I found my cool and closed my eyes, realizing I'd still be able to hear the sounds -- even the ones that would alert me if need be.
And then I started doing a really simple meditation practice: focussing on my breath, letting it do what it was doing, while counting the out breath. One to 10, and back again, starting at one.
I hadn't set a timer that time, but it was so easy to get in the flow of the space between and under the thoughts... Of course I got distracted a couple of times. I was a little surprised when a dog came running up sniffing me out of curiosity. Odd of course, a human just sitting down quietly.
I wasn't sure what to do or say when a dog walker passed within speaking distance. But overall, it was actually really amazing. The forest was helping me in this meditation, deepening the field and really inviting me in. I have no other words for it. It was magic. After a while I opened my eyes, and silently stayed there for quite a while. No need to take out my phone to check messages or start posting.
It was just me and the forest. And a new love was born. Without creepy men. Many times have passed since and I haven´t seen them. Which is just fine by me. Try it. You will love it. Do your own version of the creepy men test, or the "won't get lost in the woods test," and enter the forest for a simple meditation.
You just might love it too.