Thursday, June 25, 2015

Finding Balance in Nature

In our first episode of The Living Room podcast, titled "Self-Care and Preservation," I talked briefly about how hiking outdoors helped me rediscover my center and find joy during a serious bout of post-partum depression. I want to share how and why this helps me find balance in a chaotic world.

A couple of years ago I was invited to speak at the Story At Home Conference, in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was asked to address the topic of Balance, chiefly the way we balance our real-life and online activities. The assignment surprised me—in fact my husband laughed out loud when I told him my topic. I'm one of the most UN-balanced people I know, perpetually wobbling in pursuit of that ever-elusive ideal.

As I explored thoughts and research for my presentation, I hit a huge roadblock and was unable to finish writing my speech...until I forced myself outdoors for a breather.

Suddenly a whole world of ideas came to me rapidly, and the speech came together in my head, packaged like a gift from God. What I re-realized in that moment was my complete focus on the task at hand (writing the speech) was putting me out of balance with my body and soul. Once I got outdoors I was rebalanced, and I could think so much more clearly. All that banging my head against a proverbial wall became almost effortless in its completion. I determined that balance needs to cover not just online and off-line activites, or plugged-in versus un-plugged, if you will, but four areas of the self: Mental, Physical, Spiritual, and Social. For our purposes I’m calling them Mind, Body, Spirit, and Connection.

What I learned, and continue to learn, is that when I'm on the trail I'm in perfect balance because I'm attending to all four areas of my self at once: Whether strolling along a riverbank or climbing a steep cliff, I'm physically active. My heart is beating, my arms and legs are working, I lift the weight of a pack on my back, I’m inhaling lungfuls of cedar. I'm also stimulating my mind. Perhaps I'm identifying wildflowers, spotting animal tracks, observing rock formations, or plotting a trail on a map. If I take a friend or two, — or even my dog — I’m socializing; if I choose to go alone, I'm contemplating. Even then I exchange smiles and hellos with a handful of strangers on the trail. And ALWAYS I'm communing: As light sparkles through running water that gurgles over rocks in a stream, leaves dance in a gentle breeze, crickets chant in rhythm and hummingbirds drink the nectar of wildflowers, I feel at one with the circle of life, more in touch with the Creator of the universe. My heart responds, launching praise and gratitude to the heavens. I am whole again.

This post also appears here: The Living Room | Live Internet Talk Radio | Best Shows Podcasts

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