Altitude Therapy

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” -Walt Whitman

Last week I was “on vacation” in the majestic Smokey Mountains – “on vacation” with quotation marks because I was up every night, all week, with my darling youngest daughter, who had a nasty chest cough that reappeared every time she lay down.

Yikes! By Day 4 I was feeling furious with my life situation and totally worn out.  Worst, I was polluting the environment for everyone around  – bad moods spread like wildfire.  In such a profound state of exhaustion, meditation was a challenge because I kept falling asleep.

A good solution when conventional meditation isn’t working for you: movement meditation.

I strode off alone to the peak of Chimney Top Mountain. It was so beautiful! The intermittent rainfall was just enough that I felt comforted by the raindrops rather than drenched by them. It was refreshing to sweat and to have my attention utterly focused on the simple tasks of not slipping down the rock face or tripping over the root of a tree. My mood lifted as I took a step back from my hectic life and a step into nature– within a few minutes I felt re-connected to life’s wonder and grace, and ready to be a good mom, sister, and friend again.

This little video isn’t a substitute for actually hiking a mountain or walking in nature – but perhaps you could enjoy it as an amuse bouche – the way you are served a little tasty surprise at the beginning of the meal to whet your appetite for the main course – and be inspired to take yourself outside, into the green world today.

Yesterday’s New York Times highlighted the benefits of walking in nature…

“…soothes our minds and improves our mental health.”

The study’s author* says it’s not clear what exactly creates this enhanced state of wellbeing:

“Is it the greenery, quiet, sunniness, loamy smells, all of those, or something else that lifts our moods? Do we need to be walking or otherwise physically active outside to gain the fullest psychological benefits? Should we be alone or could companionship amplify mood enhancements?”

What do you think? Maybe it doesn’t even matter…

“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains? Nature remains.” -Walt Whitman

*Study by Gregory Bratman, a graduate student at the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University, who focuses on the psychological effects of urban living.

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