As I put one foot in front of the other, breathing in deeply, exhaling loudly, I finally learned what meditation was all about. I read over and over, just focus on your breath. I can’t just focus on my breath…it isn’t that interesting. Other things come to mind before the third inhale.
Now, as I climbed the mountainside, straining with each deep breath, I could totally get that all I could think about was my breathing. Except that fleeting thought…I am only 51 and have never had heart problems, but it seems totally plausible that I could have a heart attack right now, on this mountain incline, with my husband and daughter expanding the distance between us.
Although this possibility passed through my mind, in general, I was at peace. Staying active, outdoors-active, is therapy in itself. You are doing something, which means you are involved in the world. You are being healthy, that is assuming you are doctor-approved for hills and hikes and beautiful, expansive landscapes of snow-peaked mountains and rushing water streams.
All of this seems to take away worry about life.
It’s Never Too Late to Get Active
I have never been a very active person. In this case, a late bloomer. However, being active and doing stuff, outdoors or not, doesn’t leave much time for depression or worry. In the past, vacation for me meant time to contemplate life and work. It fed worry and anxiety. Does my life count? Am I making a difference? What should I do about this or that when I get back?
The most activity for me on a typical vacation looked like walking from my rented beach house to the water’s edge, to sit down and worry about these life things. Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying I never came up with solutions. God certainly met me at the water’s edge. Yet, the last couple of years of active vacations…hiking, fishing, and riding ATV’s through the dusty roads…pushed outside thoughts from my head for long periods of time. It was like a vacation from worry.
Even at home, away from the vacation activities of Glacier National Park or Pigeon Forge, I have been walking daily. Watching the sunrise on our feels-like-country roads. Listening to the birds waking up with the sun. Noticing details of the neighbor’s homes and yards; details that have been overlooked each of the walking days before.
Doing Pushes Out Thinking
All of this doing, pushes out thinking, and gives our hearts and minds a needed rest.
When depression sets in, one of the circular symptoms is not feeling like doing anything. Once a person succumbs to the darkness of the quicksand called anxiety and worry, it takes Herculean strength to pull ourselves back up.
I have always hated depression (who doesn’t, I know). To such an extent that I work really, really hard to never let it catch up with me. In the past, I have used a similar approach, that is, staying active. I just stayed active cooking huge multi-course meals for our extended family. Or painting. I learned this same lesson about art. It is really hard to worry when you are trying to paint, even paint by numbers.
Participation Is A Healthy Way To Keep Depression at Bay
Likewise, staying focused on something that requires your participation, getting actively involved, is a really healthy way to keep depression at bay.
Last post, I referenced the book, A Mind of Your Own by Dr. Kelly Brogan. In most cases, she believes depression is the symptom. She dedicated the book to informing us that there are a multitude of solutions and treatment that don’t require medicine. Although she is generic about referencing exercise and moving as one of the treatments, I think getting involved in activities, especially physical ones can add purpose and peace to our exercise.