It irks me when people talk about how great it is to "get out into nature," as if we are not a part of the natural world. We certainly are! Like many species we manipulate the environment so as to be more comfortable. We have large brains and opposable thumbs, hence our constructions are in certain ways more sophisticated than beaver dams or bird nests, but in some ways not nearly as miraculous. Think of the beehive, the ant hill. Wow. I love robins' nests - they're so beautifully put together, very cohesive - and they do all that with their beaks? Wow.
The only way it's possible to reconnect with our place in the natural order is by spending time outdoors. It's grounding and orienting, even when the weather is too hot, cold, windy, rainy or whatever. Noticing the quality of light, time of day, season and temperature is an experience we are wired for. It brings us into our bodies, recalibrates the metabolism, helps us act in harmonious accordance with the environment on many levels.
People who spend a lot of time outdoors exhibit a hearty vitality that wanes in those who don't. Sadly there are a lot of people who spend their days moving from one hermetically sealed building to a car and then back to another building. Indoor people (those who spend less than a half hour outdoors every day) strike me as vague, fuzzy around the edges, while outdoor people are vivid and engaged.
The life of the mind is great, but the animal of the body needs plenty of outside time in order to be healthy. In the book The Secret Garden, a young boy is healed simply by spending time outdoors in a beautiful garden, breathing fresh air and taking in the sunshine and blue sky. In Tibetan medicine, gazing at the blue sky is thought to cure depression and malaise. I believe it!
Today, venture out. For citizens of the U.S. this is a holiday during which outdoor picnics are common. Check out not only the barbecue and beer, but the sky. Check out the light, the clouds, notice whether the heat or cool is pleasant, annoying or downright oppressive. Listen to the sounds - birds, barking dogs, laughing people, sirens, traffic. Have a walk around the block.
By remembering that we are a part of the natural world, we become more compassionate. Our bodies remember better how to adapt to different environments, we become stronger and more resilient, and more fully alive.
Break free of the box shaped room today, yes? I say yes. Shalom.