Outdoor Prescription

Just breathe. Suck air in. Hold it. Let it out. Repeat. Over and over the phrases came. Jagged breaths slowly came and went but the vice grip on the ribs wasn’t changing.  After 8 grueling weeks of neuroanatomy, the test was over; the comprehensive exam with lab practical was over. No more dead brain pieces, no more obscure pathways, no more long nights of getting home just in time to crawl into bed over mountains of undone laundry. All over. But, breathing was still not normal! My body was having none of “normal” after putting up with that mess for 8 weeks. Even after a relaxed evening immediately following the test and 12 hours of sleep, breathing was still hard. It was going to take more than just an evening off to recoup. Thankfully we had planned a cool weather camping trip, an outdoor prescription if you will, to decompress for the next evening. After mandatory classes Tuesday afternoon we scooted out to a lake an hour away, had an incredibly evening  and even made it back to campus in time for our 9 AM class Wednesday. Gorgeous weather and fall foliage paved the way to the secluded campground and now that we are back in full swing for psychiatry,  our mind, bodies, and souls are prepared for it.

Tree by the lake
Vibrant foliage

Serenity restores the mind and body
In case you couldn’t tell from the photos, the landscape was phenomenal. Sunlight waters of a lake at sunset, fall fruits, vibrant foliage, and perfectly crisped air will work wonders for a tired mind and body. The hubby and I disagree a little on whether sleeping on the cold hard ground is therapeutic, but my ribs were very grateful for a change of scenery. The extra beautiful part is there is absolutely no reason to stay up late. The sun went to bed and shortly after so did I! No computer screens, no diseased brain photos, just a breeze in the leaves and a distant train.

Gorgeous sunset
Persimmons! Beautiful fall fruit. Plan to bake something with a few of the ripe ones we found.

Singing worship songs invigorates the soul
Curled up in a blanket sitting in front of a warm fire on a crisp night and opening our souls in worship under the cathedral dome of a starry sky was one of the best parts of the whole trip. Deep peace and  souls restored in faith were the end result.  Neither of us play guitar or sing exceptionally well, so maybe it was good we were the only ones at the campground, but hey, the Psalmist says “make a joyful noise” so we’re covered.

Fall berries we found while hiking

Simple food warms the heart
Early Wednesday morning I woke at dawn to see a crackling fire and my favorite person in the world. If that wasn’t a sufficiently good start to a morning, there shortly after was an iron skillet toasting apples, oats, and almonds with cinnamon and vanilla.  it smelled like heaven and tasted like fall. Humble ingredients, simple preparation, and an ideal way to start the day with a warm and grateful heart.

Apple skillet that smelled like Heaven and tasted like fall
Best camping partner

What’s your favorite outdoor prescription? 🙂

Does Your Mind Need To Be Back In Your Body?

Body. Mind. Spirit.

Daily in my training I am reminded how these three entities and everything in our bodies is connected. Literally everything. This past weekend I attended a yoga workshop encouraging women to love their bodies and a training session the next day on therapies for facial bones, postural evaluations, and some esoteric topics of the minute movements of intracranial structures that affect the entire body’s function…. wheww, that was a mouthful. Anyway, why did I go? Because everything is connected! And because I felt totally amazing afterwards, it had been a stressful week and I needed to slow down and refocus.

OMM Lab – Where we train to help people put their minds back in their bodies

After the weekend I had a few thoughts about points brought up from people of very different backgrounds that all revolved around putting your mind back in your body.

First I should clarify what I mean by the above statement. Putting your mind back in your body is not the result of a paranormal reality that everyone is having an out of body experience and needs to do the Voodoo to put it back. Not at all. Putting your mind back in your body means being aware of how your body works, its level of health, and its purpose in life.

The Struggle
Society as a whole struggles to know their own body and where their mind belongs in relation to it. As a Christian I find this appalling. We worship ourselves as society. We adore how we look, we are obsessed with what others think of us, we spend hours on self-gratification, self-fulfillment, and self-indulgence. It sounds a little odd on that you can be totally obsessed with yourself and still not have your mind in your body at all, but it is a problem as ubiquitous as obesity or Alzheimer’s.

We have to be still, know that He is God

Why is This an Issue?
Next time you go out to eat notice how engaged you are with whoever you are with. Notice how engaged the people are around you. Not very engaged? It is too easy to live for distraction from anything besides the present. But not living in the present costs us in our relationship as well as our own health. (Check out my previous posts on spending more time with family  or taking time to see baby rabbits for practical ways to live in the present). When we feel discouraged or depressed we reach for our phones and devices. When we feel hungry, or bored, or anything else we reach for food. When we feel pain we reach for meds or something to just take it away and seldom deal with the cause. We have high blood pressure chronically and make no lifestyle changes. Why? Because to fight any of these, to live intentionally and to live in the present we have to remember God connected our minds to our bodies and sometimes we have to take inventory! What are the consequences? Mind out of body problems, like not being able to tell when things go wrong, growing mindless altogether as in the cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s, and succumbing to chronic pain and mental illness.

The Sides
As I observed the various perspectives this weekend as well as previous experiences on putting your mind back in your body I noticed two camps. Eastern cultures regularly use healthy behaviors blended with mysticism to create a religion (that later dropped most of the religious aspects and it back to whole person health i.e. yoga and similar arts). Exercise classes like Yoga have taken the world by storm and for a very good reason – they are great at putting the mind back in the body. The second camp is Christianity which among many church circles avoids looking inward and many times forget their body and soul are connected at all. In fact many Christians view Yoga and mind practices as pagan or Satanic. Some Christians view regular prayer as a way to reset the body and I am inclined to agree that although this is not the purpose of prayer it is an undervalued benefit. It shouldn’t really be a surprise that refocusing our soul on God helps put our mind back in a proper place inside our body; remember, everything is connected.

Putting our minds back in our bodies is crucial for our health

The Analysis
The sad part is that one camp offers profound health benefits while denying God any of His creative glory for designing such unique, infinitely complex, and incredible organisms. God made us so incredible we have mechanisms to help us heal. The other camp is drowning in obesity and stiff religiosity. They can be seen reaching for another donut and vehemently stating God thinks it’s sin to sit with your legs crossed thinking about your breathing. Not exactly a pretty picture of being good stewards of our dynamic bodies. And a few people do get it right, that health is something to be taken care of, God is a God to be glorified, and we are people that have lives to live!

The Conclusion
Saying we are designed to never experience suffering is wrong and so is refusing to do anything on our parts to minimize it. Saying we cannot acknowledge God as ultimate Creator, Sustainer, and Healer is wrong, and so is saying He has not given us mechanisms for self repair (hello, we do not go to the ER every time we get a paper cut). So roll out your yoga mat, stretch, check your mental and spiritual health! Go outside and be amazed by the beauty of God’s creation while you exercise, spend time in prayer, and get your mind back in your body.

What are your thoughts on health and living intentionally? 🙂