I learned about this when I was working with a group called Buddhafield, who put on camping retreats. Its an amazing setup, everything is done in the open air or in yurts or large domes, with the meditation or shrine tent made with saplings and canvas, with candles and thangkas inside it with a beautiful shrine.
I used to prefer meditating in the open air, especially when the sun was out. I was in charge of the hot tubs on some retreats which meant I was next to the river tending the fires. I created a grotto, with hanging tealights in red jars, a little platform over the stream which I could sit on, and my little library. I was in a heaven really, ensuring the tubs were hot and people were happy and their time in the tubs was relaxing. There was nothing better after a long days meditation and puja than getting naked in a hot tub under the stars, which are very clear in Devon.
I also set a couple of palettes in the stream, and set up a meditation spot surrounded by the twinkling sounds of water, and where, if you half opened your eyes, you could see the water rush under you like time flowing before your eyes. I have a fascination with time, and awareness of time, and sound helps me explore this. Through sound it is as if you can surf the present moment, as that moment moves so must you, which is why surfing a wave seems an apt image. I am working on some meditations to do with sound, so will write more about this soon.
At the right time of day, you could also see the thousands of little suns reflecting off the water, dancing a dazzling dance, a sight to set the mind to beauty. To the left a field full of yellow flowers, bowing wishing accompaniment to the music of the stream, all a drone texture to the harmonic movement of water and the joyful solos of the birds.
My favourite was simply to sit in the sun though, there was something about the light behind my eyes, the warmth and the brightness was just so right for my state of mind. A warm and open heart, a heart as wide as the world, and a mind like infinite space. The Tibetans don’t distinguish between heart and mind, heart-mind is called citta (chitta.)
So the sun on your face is ideal for higher states of meditation. Ideally I suppose you wouldn’t need it, but it helped and still does help me. It naturally connects me to warmth and joy and comfort.
It can also help if you are meditating on the six elements, as the element fire is so easy to connect with through the sun. As the warmth enters you so will it leave, warmth not I, me, not mine, simply a part of the element fire. This meditation fascinates me, and each element is felt as a part of your body, and as a part of the wider world. Each element is then found not be “self” and just borrowed from the greater element. At the end of the meditation when your space has evaporated into great space, the consciousness is left unbound by space, infinite mind.
I will write more about this meditation as well, and soon, I recently introduced a friend to it, and seeing his reaction has inspired me anew. I have been reading and researching the meditation, and practising it daily, and will therefore soon be ready to record a guided contemplation of the elements.
This morning there was some sunshine, which is a blessing in January in Cornwall! I sat and did a metta bhavana meditation, and it was so lovely and joyous. Again I wonder whether I should live somewhere with a little more sunshine, since sunshine is so important to me!! Or maybe it is so important for the lack of it, and living here makes me appreciate it more when it comes. Maybe the way of sunshine is actually just a projection of S.A.D!
Anyway, even if it through a window, just try meditating with the sun on your face, it is a different experience!