I have a wandering mind (see my About page for details) and although I’ve been practicing yoga for well over a decade, I’ve never mastered that whole “let go of your thoughts” thing. I’m a fairly incompetent meditator. I prefer to be moving to settle my mind and find a peaceful rhythm for my ricocheting thoughts. Moving meditation is intensely satisfying, but I find it difficult to sit in sukasana (easy pose) in a silent attempt to be present. Don’t get me wrong, I think meditation is an amazing opportunity for positive transformation; I just prefer to move (walk, hike, ski, backpack, mountain bike, etc.) while I’m transforming. Sitting still is not one of my strong points.
And guess what? That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Mind wandering research suggests that day-dreaming activates different problem solving areas of the brain that don’t normally work together. It’s a good way to foster bi-hemisphere cooperation and promote neural networking between the right and left sides of the brain. Some of our most insightful moments come when we allow our thoughts to wander, drift, surf, and bounce around.
I say, let that ship sail.
I also believe that everything about us is interconnected. What we eat, think, do, and how we interact with our environment impacts overall health and optimal aging. The image I used for this post shows distinctly different parties going on in each side of the brain. We’ve been taught to think of right- and left-side brain function as being on opposite ends of the spectrum. It’s called brain lateralization. The left side is logical, the right side is creative, and although most of us tend to lean in one obvious direction or the other, there’s a lot of communication going on between the two hemispheres. Sometimes it’s collaborative; sometimes it’s a partisan brawl.
Regardless, we need to nourish healthy “mind wandering” to enhance mental clarity, reduce stress, and optimize vitality. One way to do this is get outside and literally wander. We spend way too much time sitting indoors staring at a computer screen (I’m guilty), watching TV, or obsessed with our smart phones. We’re experiencing tech over-load, wi-fi obsession, and nature deprivation. We can also add poor eating habits to the list. It’s a downhill spiral and it makes a difference in how we age.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…“ ~ John Muir
I don’t know when Scottish-born, American wilderness advocate John Muir wrote those words, but he died in 1914, so it’s safe to say he wasn’t blogging about it on the Internet. It’s also safe to say, we’re in deeper doo-doo health-wise, than we were back then. We’re wilderness deprived, frazzled, and techno-saturated.
Maybe it’s time to reconnect with nature. That’s our real power source.
Go outside and play!
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