Here in the Midwest, we experience some pretty epic thunderstorms. I’ve always loved thunderstorms; they’re unsettling in a powerful and beautiful way. The ones we have during the day aren’t as much fun (I don’t like it gray all day, I need my sunshine), but the evening and night ones are amazing. We’ve had a lot here lately, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching the sky flicker and flash as the rains torrent down and the clouds envelop the house.
All of the thunderstorms we’ve had here lately got me thinking about how much these storms can enhance and illuminate a meditation session. I know this might sound crazy, as a jarring, violent storm seems like pretty much the opposite of a tranquil meditation, but the two can intertwine. I’ve found that meditating during a thunderstorm has a uniquely centering effect on my breath and awareness, mostly because of the unpredictability of the storm. It mirrors life in this way; it’s a beautiful metaphor.
Benefits of meditating during a thunderstorm
A few weeks ago, I decided to meditate a bit while it was fully storming outside. I laid down for this particular meditation, but I’m going to try sitting next time (it’s a bit easier to focus that way most of the time, for me at least). Here’s what I found during my experience:
- The unexpected thunder crashes in the background made me focus more deeply on my breath.
- Both the thunder and the lightning jolted me into awareness, and helped to center my running train of distracted thoughts.
- The heavy rain was a truly magical element. I find that when water pours freely from the sky, the pressure in my head releases, and I feel lighter and more present.
- Once I got a good handle on my breath, I was able to keep it steady through the thunder and lightning. The storm outside became a background, and my breath and awareness became the foreground. It was very effective.
On a sidenote, I could also see how meditating during a thunderstorm could help people to deal with an overactive startle reflex. If you feel jittery and jolted by thunder and lightning, allowing yourself to relax, center and breathe calmly and deeply during it could help accustom you to these startling sights and sounds. Once you accept them and are able to center your awareness among them, the crashes and flashes won’t seem so jarring.
For your meditating pleasure, I have thought of a few types of thunderstorm meditation to try. Here are some ideas:
Enhanced awareness meditation
Let the storm help you get more in tune with yourself and the present moment. During a thunderstorm, find a place to sit where you are near (but not too near) a view of the beautiful chaos outside. Maybe set a cushion next to a window (just keep cell phone alerts on for any tornado warnings, you don’t want to be near a window if those hit). Face the window and take in the view outside.
Sit comfortably, keep your eyes open and relax all of your muscles. Focus on your breath. As the thunder crashes, imagine each crash “resetting” your mind. Allow your thoughts to dissolve with each thunder clap and lightning strike, and work to keep your breath steady. Once you’ve been doing this for a few moments, you may feel a greater sense of calm, a sense of peace with nature and an awe of the power of our planet’s forces.
Restful sleep meditation
If you find it difficult to sleep during night time thunderstorms, meditation may help. When you get into bed and turn off the lights, lie down on your back in your bed. Prop your legs up on a pillow if this makes you more comfortable, and place your arms in a relaxed, neutral position. Breathe and take in the storm. Focus on deep breaths. You can start by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, and then switch to just breathing deeply and mindfully through your nose once you feel relaxed.
Let each thunder and lightning strike refocus your mind. If they startle you, accept it and calmly get back to the rhythm of your breath. If you find yourself tensing up, exhale the tension. If you practice this, you may find it much easier to fall asleep during thunderstorms over time. Plus, meditation itself is great for getting a higher quality of sleep.
Essential oil meditation
Thunderstorms are a powerful natural phenomenon, so consider using potent, spicy essential oils to enhance your experience. A few examples are rose, jasmine, cedarwood and ylang ylang. Put a few drops in a diffuser to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy, or mix a drop or two with a base oil such as organic coconut oil and apply to pressure points.
Enjoy the next thunderstorm that rolls in — it may help take your meditation to a whole new level.
— Meditation Daily