In the past couple of years, as the planet has been experiencing a frightening pandemic, intense political conflict, and extreme weather patterns (among other things), many of us have found ourselves hesitant to leave our apartments or houses. We learned to work at home and avoid crowded public places, which held potential dangers. Even now, as we begin to venture out more, a kind of post-traumatic stress seems to linger in our consciousness. We have to break through a fear barrier just to go outdoors. It takes a real effort to walk to the corner store, let alone take a plane to another city.
We have collectively fallen into the habit of fear-based inertia, believing it is safer and easier to stay put in our living rooms than to go out into the risk-ridden world. We choose the simulated reality of Netflix or social media over the shining, ever-expanding world outside our doors. This scenario is unlike anything we have ever experienced in our lifetimes, and as we look into the future, we can’t foresee it changing. Perhaps it is we who have to change. Choose to open the door instead of lock it.
For example: On a winter’s day in February when cold or snow could trap you indoors, fearful of the icy sidewalks and the frigid wind, go outside anyway, even for ten minutes. Walk around your neighborhood or in a local park. Breathing the fresh air will clear your lungs—and your mind. So many things have kept us indoors recently. How about using a peaceful but invigorating walk as the daily movement challenge to get you beyond your door, whatever the weather? I promise you it will help break the stay-at-home inclination and also make you feel a lot better physically.
I am finding that when I begin to feel tired or depressed and unwilling to move, that is exactly the time when I need most to take a walk outdoors. If I consciously remind myself how much better I feel when I go outside, then I am able to make the extra effort to walk out the door. And every single time I am rewarded with some special moment in the world around me. In spring it is colorful flowers and newly green leaves; in winter, tree silhouettes and wild geese against brilliant blue skies. Always there are bird calls and the smell of fresh air. And the faces of individuals I pass on the street, who smile brightly if I say hello. All of this is a refresher jumpstart for my body and soul, which I would have missed entirely if I had stayed inside.
So next time you feel incapacitated by the gravity that keeps you immobile in your own living room, not fully engaged in life, make an effort to break free. Step outside and breathe in the beauty of the planet you live on. It’s not as scary as it might seem. In fact, it is still the wondrous place it always was, filled with a variety of climates, habitats, and people. We are just going through birthing pains on our beloved Earth. See them as temporary. Look up at the sun and the always changing sky, listen to the birds singing, smile at your neighbors, and you will start to walk with a sparkle in your eyes and spirit in your steps.
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