Here are some suggestions about getting the greatest benefit from your sit spot. I’ve been doing a sit spot practice for almost 15 years, and it has changed my life in very positive ways. I used to think I had a good connection with nature from a lifetime of being outdoors alone and in groups, but I learned a new level of connection from doing a few simple things at my sit spot.
Some of these practices may seem strange and uncomfortable at first, but they are not unnatural – they’re simply very different from what our society trains us to do. Wild creatures and wild humans do these things most of their waking time.
1. Go alone.
You’ll make less noise and you’ll notice more.
2. Learn to be still.
This is a big one for having birds and animals come close without being aware of you. Allow yourself a few minutes (for me, 15 minutes does it – I can almost set my watch by that) to stop thinking and start noticing. Then, don’t move. Scratch if you need to, or adjust to a more comfortable position, but generally, be still without forcing it and getting too uncomfortable. If you hear something and want to look at it, move your head slowly.
3. Open your senses
– Start with one sense at a time.
– Expand your attention: listen close, then far; loud, then softer and softer to the quietest sound you can hear; listen to high frequencies, then down to the lowest. This is Deer Ears.
– Use your eyes as an owl would: look straight ahead, but see what’s at the sides, above, and below. Practice this while keeping your eyes aimed at one thing. This is Owl Eyes. Focus on one thing for a moment, then go back to Owl Eyes. See close, then far (“from the minute to the magnificent”).
– Touch things around you with your fingers, your arms, your feet, your cheeks. Become aware of the feel of air on your skin, the feel of your clothing, temperatures, textures, and weight. Go barefoot. This is Raccoon Touch.
– Smell the trees, the vegetation. Put your nose into grass, soil, leaves, or tree bark, and pay attention. This is Bear Nose.
– Try doing all of these at once. This will take practice. This is Wolf Awareness.
4. Go to your sit spot at all times of day and night, in all weather.
5. Occasionally take a friend or a camera, make notes, meditate, draw, make noise, sing, or dance.
This will bring to your awareness how important it is not to do these things very often.
6. Have more than one sit spot.
I have two: one on the edge of a small wooded area between urban houses, and one by a pond that is beside a housing development but surrounded by a wild margin. They’re very different, and I go to one or the other depending on my own inclinations at the moment.
These practices make the sit spot different from a walk, a ride, or a hike, in ways that can be experienced but not described.