By Mary Boutieller
“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love and so on—have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear—what remains? Nature remains…the trees, fields, the change of seasons, the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night.”—Walt Whitman
Nature, in all its beauty and grandeur, always remains…to light our imaginations, to pique our interests, to stir our souls’ longings and desires. The poet Mary Oliver wandered ceaselessly through the woods finding inspiration for her writings. It can be as simple as the weedy dandelion, as tall as the mighty oak—each plant intricate and unique.
Staying indoors doesn’t do what fresh air and a good sweat does for our physical and mental well-being. When we move our bodies and breathe, we flush out more than toxins. We flush out old ideas, worn out phrases, hurt feelings and stuck emotions. We move with the Earth instead of against it, and we find ourselves opening up to new growth. A walk in the woods heals all kinds of things.
So, whether it’s the Indian summer heat, reaching a difficult goal or letting go of something, growth can be scary. And scary is just that—scary. Yet if we keep putting one foot in front of the other, soon we are on the other side of scary, looking forward as we brush the dust off our shoulders.
As it happens, I have a pretty active imagination, one that conjures up all kinds of “scary” things that might happen if…! I call it my “drama queen.” She has a hat and a moo moo dress and dangly earrings. I even wrote a poem about her! When I really start going off the deep end worrying about the what-ifs, I just picture my friend, the drama queen, and ask her to settle down. I also inquire if what I’m feeling is real or imagined, and whether or not I can move forward.
Abraham Maslow said, “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”
Life is meant to be lived. It is meant to be felt and experienced and known. It is meant to give us goose bumps and sorrow and undeniable joy.
Dolores LaChapelle, who climbed all the original 52 Colorado Fourteeners by the time she was 21, said, “If we’re going to rediscover a viable relationship with nature, it will not be through more ideas but through experiences where you know you are a part of nature, with no questions asked. When you’ve had these experiences, you know what you want and you can’t be pushed around.”
This quote reminds me that, through my own trials and errors, by getting messy and sweaty through life’s harder experiences, I might come to understand what is real for me, and maybe be less influenced by others’ ideas or expectations.
Life is our greatest teacher, and being a little bit uncomfortable in the heat of the summer, the cold of winter or a new job interview is just the training ground for other life challenges. You just have to take the first step. Give yourself permission to go outside and watch the light change in the evening sky. Marvel at a flower growing through the cracks of a sidewalk, and take nothing you see for granted.
Yoga scholar Richard Miller said, “If we can let go of our preconceptions and dive into the level of pure, experienced sensation, we can begin to experience the world as it truly is: an unlimited expanse of vibration; a contraction of the awareness in which it lives.”
When all is said and done, we only have this one precious life to live. As far as we know, this is not a practice run, and we don’t get do-overs. Take one step at a time, try something new, move your body and heal your soul!
Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.