Monday, April 20, 2009

The Power of Solitude

While we're on the subject of fitness this month, I think it's important to discuss an exercise option that works our mental health as well as our physical stamina. It's an area of fitness that is often over-looked in our race to drop a size and look long & lean. Keeping our emotions in check and reflecting on our thoughts is important to routinely do in order to keep balance in our lives and give ourselves a chance to just...feel.

Yesterday I had a lot on my mind. Lots of questions swirling and twirling with the nerves of new possibilities on the horizon. So I took a step back and did the one thing I hate (almost as much) as stressful tension. I went running.

We have the incredible luxury of living on about 100 acres of beautiful land filled with rolling hills, mountain views, golf course fairways, and wooded land. Rivers and creeks wind through the woods and an 8 mile running trail surrounds our home. Often I go for walks on the trail to enjoy the scenery, but there are a few times where the only thing I want to do is jog deep into the woods, find tiny foot paths, and hide myself in the trees by the water. It's perfectly quiet. It's still. And there's not a trace of another person for what feels like miles. There's not one particular spot I go to...I just sort of...go. And when it feels like the right time; I stop.

On this day, I found a new part of the trail I'd never been to and I saw what looked like a deer path leading to the creek. I followed it for just a short way and found a fallen tree with a perfect perch. And I sat.

There is something very fulfilling and rare about just sitting alone in complete solitude without the sounds of voices, cars, televisions, iPod music, and commotion. If you allow yourself, you hear and see things you've never noticed before; and it's beautiful. The ripples of water, the sun dancing on leaves, buzzing flies, and branches swaying. And that's all I did for as long as it felt right to sit.

I watched.
I listened.
I soaked in the quiet.
And I loved it.

I let my mind go wherever it wanted and I didn't force a single thought. I tried very hard not to move and I let the afternoon lead me. And eventually, it felt right to leave. It may have been that the hawks were starting to circle above me or that I had reached the mental clarity I was seeking, but I picked up a rock, skipped it down the creek just like Grandpa taught me, and I rejoined the trail to finish my run. I have no idea how long I sat or what I really even thought about but it felt great - as though balance had been restored.

I know everyone isn't as lucky as us to have the kind of nature at their fingertips that we have here, but everyone can find solitude somewhere, you just have to find it. I dare you to find a place that's so quiet you can hear everything. I dare you to let your thoughts run wild without any agenda or plan. And I encourage you to do it often. You may be very surprised how fit you feel when you're done...and I guarantee you won't get a cramp.

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