Q: We went to the mountains last weekend and I meditated outdoors overlooking a huge valley. It was beautiful, and my meditation was wonderful. I was blissfully intermingled with the soft mountain air. Is there a benefit in meditating outdoors in beautiful places?

A: There is great benefit in being outdoors in beautiful places, but not necessarily in meditating there. To be able to appreciate the profound beauty of nature is the greatest joy in life. For what greater purpose could we be here than to enjoy the infinite sea of harmony in and all around us? Regular meditation gradually cultivates our inherent ability to appreciate the beauty in life. But remember what we are doing in meditation. We are easily picking up the mantra and letting it go however it will. Then we are picking it back up again when we realize we have been off it. This procedure we do for twenty minutes twice a day. We do not meditate for a particular experience while we are doing it.

The purification process has its own way to go. We cannot direct it or predict it. We do the easy procedure of meditation and let it happen. So, doing the meditation procedure is not about sitting on a mountaintop or in any particular place, except to take advantage of the best place we have available at meditation time where we will have the least distraction. Jesus said, "Go into your closet to pray." This is the idea. Meditation is an inner process, so we withdraw to do it. If we are on an airplane, in a waiting room, or on top of a mountain, we may not have a choice, so we make the best of it and meditate there. As discussed previously, it can easily be done. However, we do not go sit outdoors on a mountaintop for the purpose of meditating. It's much better to be in the cabin where it is quiet and subdued. Then we can meditate, go inward, with the least stimulation of the outer senses. Later on we can go out and appreciate the grand display of the valley below, having soaked ourselves with the perception-illuminating qualities of pure bliss consciousness. Close your eyes then, if you wish, and be one with the glory of nature all around you. Enjoy!

Meditation is a preparation for enriching the experience of everything else. It is a retreat from the outer world to pure bliss consciousness within so we can come back and know the outer world in a much more refined way. If we try and blend our meditation practice with experiencing the outer world at the same time, the results will not be optimal. First we go in. Then we come back out. Our meditation is not about trying to be in and out at the same time.

That state of being both in and out at the same time comes naturally with regular daily meditation. Being in and out at the same time is not the practice of meditation. It is the fruit of meditation. Do be inspired by the beauty of nature. Know that you can experience nature in increasingly refined ways as a result of daily practice of meditation. Use your inspiration to redouble your commitment to daily practice. Then, in time, you will know nature in a way that will permanently melt you in bliss. Then your natural state will be to be completely in and completely out at the same. You will become the great outdoors. This is the fruit of true yoga and true religion. This is enlightenment. The guru is in you.

Note: For detailed instructions on deep meditation, see the AYP Deep Meditation book. http://aypsite.com/31.html