Walk Not Sit
“Sit as little as possible; do not believe any idea that was not born in the open air and of free movement.”
The one thing about walking the Camino de Santiago, is there is not a whole lot of sitting. It is mostly walking in open air or laying down to sleep. Our time walking the Camino, gave us a rich opportunity to spend the majority of our waking hours outdoors. I have always loved my time in nature and the Camino was an extended opportunity to enjoy weeks of time outdoors.
Not long after I began my career as an engineer at the Boeing Company, I began to realize how much time I was sitting and spending my days indoors. I knew that somehow this was not good and I even jokingly referred to it as “sitting death”.
The human species has dwelt outside for hundreds of thousands of years. We are deeply imprinted by this in our evolution as a human organism. I believe this is why when I need to be restored and renewed in body and mind, I go outside into nature, to walk in a forest or along the shoreline. It heals me and restores my mental resources.
There is a fair amount of research these days that backs up this important reality, nature heals. It is so important to get outdoors and watch a sunset, or the ripples on the water and even small amounts of time each day count. Yet, if we can arrange it, longer times spent in nature, can change how we think. In the long Camino walk, I found I was becoming less anxious and a calm came over me. I was no longer thinking about my “to do” list. Fewer decisions and choices were demanded of me which then freed my mind to follow thoughts wherever they may lead. My best and most creative ideas have come during my long walks in nature. The longer time I get, the more mental equilibrium I establish and the better my thinking becomes.
I learned recently learned that researchers have a term for how time in nature can relief stress and restore our mental resources, it is called “Environmental Self-Regulation”. It is the process of psychological renewal that our brains cannot accomplish on their own.
Today it is estimated that we are spending only 7 percent of our time outdoors. No wonder we are frazzled, fatigued and prone to distraction! Landscape architect, Frederick Law Omsted, spent his life helping to create beautiful nature spaces, like New York’s Central Park to help us all have a place for some “environmental self regulation”. He said,
“Natural scenery employs the mind without fatigue and yet enlivens it; and thus, through the influence of the mind over the body, gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system.”
I hope you make some time each day for some refreshing rest and reinvigoration in nature. It is what our brains and bodies need and as a result it is where out best thinking it done.
Blessings abound in all,
Photograph of the Month
This image evokes vastness to me. It makes me feel the closeness of the trees and yet the unfathomable expanse of the universe.
I was inspired last year with this words that just seem to fit the image.