Sleeping outdoors in urban areas

To a beguinner, it’s hard to sleep in a place where you think people might look at you while you are asleep. The thought of it is bothering.

Sleeping outdoors has so many benefits! To feel the air on my skin is the most important one for me. Beeing closer to the nature (even the weed and the trees in the city is nature), percieving sounds and smells in a different way than indoors is also part of it. In times like this, of heat, it is my more refreshing.. It’s also free. And it’s an adventure! One that actually don’t have to be very complicated.

Kalmar, Sweden. Ten minutes walk from the castle. Behind some bushes, where noone can see you from the pathway.

I encourage everyone to try sleeping outdoors. And doing it close to home makes it easier. For Missy people that means in an urban area.

Start small by bringing som cushions to your balcony. That’s outdoors too! Or your garden or a spot closeby. Do it alone, or bring a special person to have it romantical, or a friend to have an deep talk before you fall a sleep. Or bring your kids, or some other kids you know. They will love it, you will get an excuse to do it, and you won’t be alone. If you wake up during the night, just move in to your bed. One of the best parts is the “falling asleep” part anyway :)

My balcony in winter time. Örnsberg, Stockholm, Sweden.

Sometimes when traveling, for exemple when I need some time for myself, I sleep outdoors, even in towns. An other reason I do it, when in my hometown, Stockholm, is that I don’t have to make it such a big project to get out. I don’t have to care about the weather forecast or bringing equipment. If it starts raining or gets cold, I can just go back home. I don’t even have to bring a toothbrush ;)

15 minutes walk from my appartment. 15 min (metro) + 15 min (walk) from central station. Axelsberg, Stockholm, Sweden.
Axelsberg, Stockholm, Sweden.

When sleeping outside your own homeground, immediately the qestion of beeing looked apon while asleep arises. The mere thougt makes us unconfortable. I guess it’s in our genes, to protect us. But it’s just a question of getting used to it.

For practising, start by falling asleep in the sun on the beach for 15 min, on your towel, while some friends are playing wolley-ball. Nothing strange with that, right? Sleeping on the plane, train or bus? Most people can do that. What’s the difference between that and sleeping on a bench 200 meters from Stockholm central station, with people passing by? Noone will steal from you there either, because too many people are watching, but still we feel very uncomfortable. We don’t want people on the street to look at us because we think that they will think that we are strange. Right?

To much thinking of what others think. Practice sleeping in the easy places and work your way up. Look for excuses. Slumber on a bench in a park in the sun? On the beach in the evening, with company? Sleep in a tent in the woods alone? You don’t have to go to the harder parts. Like in a park, at night…. all alloooone? Or in the street with strangers all around you. I wouldn’t have done it two years ago. Now I’ve been there and done that. I promise you, it gets easier every time.

Just out of sight of the east harbour of Mariehamn, Åland, Finland.

Then the obvious reaction. “It’s dangerous!” What if an evil person comes? Someone who will steal your stuff or rape or kill you? We all hear that happening to people all the time.

Well… Do we hear about all planes that don’t crash? When I was a kid I thought that a very high amount of all plane crashed, because it was on the news “all the time”. When my dad told me there were lots of planes that didn’t, I asked him why they didn’t report about all of those too, so we didn’t have to be so afraid of it happening. No room for that in the news, huh?

Sunrise behind the circus tent on the beach walk in Funchal, Madeira.
Funchal, Madeira.

In this matter, it comes down to trust. We have to trust that almost no people are thiefs, rapists and murderers. They aren’t. And the risk for something happening, if we make some precausions, is as big anywhere. Walking in the city, using public transportation, going to a restaurent. There can be luniacs anywhere, however well awake you are.

You mustn’t not let fright prevent you from doing things you want in your life. And you aren’t! You are doing “dangarous” things all the time. Things that you choose to do, that are important for you and that makes you well. Like sports, enyoing the sun, traveling, taking the bike to your job. All really dangerous stuff! See?

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. It’s of course a question of balancing trust, not beeing stupid and taking risks.

Behind the pillars of the Tribunal in Funchal, Madeira. Can it be safer? Or is it so safe when noone is around?
It can actually be safer. On top of the yellow thing is a lawn. Can you read the blue sign on the wall behind? It says “POLICIA”. And see the stairway to that buildning? They constantly kept guard by a policeman by the entrance. Safer place is hard to find. But you had to tolerate that the policemen and everyone walking the stairs to the park is watching you. :)

I would say a spot where there are more people around is safer than a corner of town where you are more alone. But if you can find a private place in a calm and safe area, that is of course also good. And to sleep where there are people moving around, you have to tolerate strangers looking at you while you are sleeping.

There are more theives than rapists, and the opportunity might make a thief, so I would also recommend you to keep valuables on you and to sleep with your belongings close to you. If you expect people around, and it makes you feel safer, entangle the handles of your bags around your arms. And keep for exemple a pepper spray at hand if that makes you sleep better.

Taken the safety precausions you choose, just trust the world and people around you, as you do in all other situatons. While driving, traveling, crossing a square or shopping for groceries.

Thats pretty much it.

View of Stockholm, Sweden, after sunset. From Fåfängan.
Sunset over Karlskrona, Sweden. From Bryggareberget.


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