A sit spot practice is a simple way to enhance our observational skills, learn about our surroundings, make discoveries, come up with questions, and connect ourselves and our daily lives with the natural world around us.
Other creatures are living their lives all around us all the time, and the changing light and weather patterns are constantly sending us helpful information. As we become more aware of nature, especially our immediate surroundings, we become more connected to the other beings we share the world with, and also this dynamic inanimate world that we share with them. Though it may seem obvious, these animals, insects and plants are individuals with their own temperaments, territories, families and routines. To some extent, we can become participants in their stories, which are perennially unfolding on the landscape. And we can recognize them as influencers in our stories as well.
The way to start a sit spot practice is simply by spending time outdoors sitting in quiet awareness, usually in a particular place in nature that we visit over and over again. By visiting the same place in nature many times, a relationship is developed; you get to know the place in all kinds of weather, many times of day, throughout the seasons, and from a variety of your own states of mind. At Fiddleheads in-person school we practice a communal sit spot every morning at snack time in our regular snack spot. It is a quick daily practice with young children and their short attention spans, but over time it adds much depth and richness to all our other studies. This practice, perhaps more than any other individual activity, effectively builds an emotional bond between our students and the natural world.
Now as we continue at Fiddleheads this fall with online only learning, I am happy to find that sit spots are a practice that easily translates to at home learning. A sit spot practice can be a great practice for families to take up at any time, but the benefits of perspective that a regular practice brings seem especially poignant these days. A sit spot can become like an anchor in your life - a place to settle down, cultivate present-moment awareness and a quieter mind, and to observe the flow of reality occurring around you. It is powerful to watch the cycle of the seasons unfold from a place of continuity. It is engrossing and enlightening to get to know your non-human neighbors. There are complex layers of life and activity around all of us, even in urban neighborhoods. From my yard in SE Portland I have become familiar with the daily and seasonal lives of a pair of Anna’s hummingbirds, a family of raccoons, several squirrel dreys, a pair of great horned owls, a population of crows, a pair of red tailed hawks, a solitary cooper’s hawk, and a great numbers of other birds that pass over and through each season. I watch the blooming schedule of the spring flowers and observe the plethora of pollen and seed events unfolding. I follow the winds and witness the weather. I could go on and on. There is a lot that we can learn by spending a few minutes a day sitting quietly in observation even just in our own back yards or on our porches and stoops.
To begin a sit spot practice with young children, we want to present some simple guidelines. Role modeling has an incredible impact. It is best to plan to do this practice with your child. A sit spot practice with young children only takes about 5 minutes a day, so it shouldn’t be a big burden to incorporate in, especially with a little planning.
Sharing! We also like to take the opportunity to share the things that we find in our sit spots and see and hear about what others are noticing in their practices. The facebook online learning group is a great place to do this. It’s so fun and inspiring to share these discoveries!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.