Zen Yoga Garage: Benefits of Meditating in Nature

Shore Shore Cultural Center

Shore Shore Cultural Center

Chicago Parks Foundation and GongLab hosted a great EarthGong Meditation on Sunday, January 29th. Community members came together at the beautiful Chicago Park District South Shore Cultural Center to focus on “The Palace of the Heart” as the snow fell and the sun set. Thank you to Zen Yoga GarageTea Gschwender, and Chiya Chai for partnering with us on this event!

This week we sat down with Piper-Lori Parker, General Manager and Co-Owner of Zen Yoga Garage, for an interview about meditating in nature. Read on for Piper’s tips for those new to meditation!

CPF: Why is meditation important? 

Being outside, breathing in open air is an awesome way to do it. Let the sounds - yes, even of the city - wash over you.

Piper: We are so overwhelmed, especially in the urban environment. With screens, technology, messaging from every corner, the world is moving so fast around us these days. It can be hard to slow down and feel human. Clearing your head space and getting quiet for, at minimum, a few minutes each day can really be an amazing relaxation tool and a way to turn off all the outside messaging and go within. 


Meditation balances your mental and emotional health. It can relieve anxiety, stress, and help you relax. It also keeps you calm and aids in decision making and mental clarity.

I'm new to meditation. Where should I start?

Piper meditating at Park No. 567

Piper meditating at Park No. 567

Some like to start with a guided meditation. They are easy to find in podcast form or even from iTunes or Spotify. There's also huge amounts of ambient meditation music out there in the world. Giving your mind something to focus on can sometimes help. Some people are more comfortable starting with silence. It really depends on your personal preference. I tell my students to attempt to find a time and space continuum, where it doesn't matter how long they have sat or how much longer they will sit. Just try to BE and remove everything else. 


Being outside, breathing in open air is an awesome way to do it. Let the sounds, yes even of the city, wash over you and become one homogeneous peripheral sound experience before you tune it out.  You can also use earplugs or headphones, but I like the sounds to be a part of it. The air on your skin, the sun on your face can be very healing in their own right. Putting the two together is appropriate and effective.