Friday, August 12, 2011

the places that soothe you

I hit the ground nearly running. I hear my feet pounding the earth beneath me. Between the tall trees I see patches of blue sky and the flickering of sunlight as I dash up, down, and around the hills. The sounds of the birds chirping bring me comfort. Nothing smells quite like being out in the woods.

Henry David Thoreau said, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to put my senses back in order.” I do exactly the same.

The yoga mat and being outside in nature are two of the things that most soothe and calm me. If you read my previous post then you know that this is a challenging time for me. My usual daily walks in the cemetery would not cut it alone. I knew that I needed more woods, less pavement, and more quiet.

I've walked over 8 miles the past two days at Raven Run (and spent nearly three hours on my yoga mat). The beginning of my hikes have been similar to some yoga practices in that I hit the mat, feeling stressed and all out of sorts. When I'm not able to ground my energy from breathing alone I hit the mat in a bit of a frenzy. I give myself permission to move in a fast and furied way, burning off some of the energy that I have. I flow through sun salutations at a quick and harried pace.

I started my hike like that today. But at some point, as with my yoga practice, my body is grounded by the movement, I connect to my breath, the spaces between thoughts grow longer, and my mind grows more calm and clear.

I realized that one can approach both yoga and walking with the intention of exercise. Or/And one can approach both yoga and walking with the intention of putting their senses back in order and healing body, mind, and heart.

I've had a love affair with nature for a long time. I can thank my Daddy for this. To this day my fondest memories of growing up are the days I spent out in the hills surrounding our home. I snapped the photo above this summer when I was home on my cell phone. It is quite simply, the greenest, most lush place of all.

In college one of my favorite classes was outdoor recreation. For class we met out in the woods. I loved the idea of being in school, yet not being contained, or confined within four walls. The earth was our classroom. Looking back now I can see just how amazing that was.

For my major, Recreation and Park Adm. I got to do two internships between my bachelors and master's degrees. All of my internships were outdoor related. I worked at Fort Boonesborough State Park and spent a summer in a rural area of SC on a project through Clemson University. Again, in each place my office and working environment was outside in nature. After graduate school I actually worked for several months at Raven Run, the same place soothing me now. I led groups on nature hikes and helped maintain the trails and property in general.

I can see now how important it is for me to have access to beautiful places. I can see important it is for me to be outside, connecting and communing with nature. I can see how important it is for me to have a job that's flexible in order to do so. I can see why I love going to Tulum so very much. It is there that I combine the things that I love so much, yoga and nature.

I have a feeling that as the days of summer dwindle and the stresses come and go, I'll be making the short drive (only 15 minutes away) to Raven Run and making the four mile loop around the property as often as I can.

It will be here that I will play and pray, that I will connect to nature, that I will move my body, hear my breath and my thoughts, be soothed and healed. And to put my senses back in order.

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