Tune out to tune in: Spending time in nature has always provided me with a sense of calm and total freedom–especially when there are no electronics/tech devices. Do I REALLY need to tweet, make a phone call, respond to a text, read an email or look at the time? These days tuning out is also an essential break from the stresses of COVID-19. The pandemic has limited our everyday social interactions, most “regular” activities and our ability to travel, and made it difficult to escape a wide variety of anxieties it can cause. Whether it be walking around the block, down an alley, through a vacant lot, for miles around various neighborhoods and parks, hiking up mountains or camping out for a day or two, nothing feels quite as soothing as tuning into our natural surroundings. Tuning out of our normally noisy zones allows us to tune in and reconnect with the mind, body and soul. My husband and I just returned from riding “The Thorofare”in Yellowstone National Park– a 9 day horse pack trip through 90 miles of wilderness. On day 4, we were the furthest we could be from any road or community in the entire lower 48 states. Surrounded by the sounds of rivers rushing, creeks gushing, campfires popping, horse hooves clopping, night owls hooting, crows looting, raindrops pattering, lightning cracking, wind roaring and horses snoring, my mind tuned into our astounding world and it’s myriad symphonies.
Clearing: When you are surrounded by wilderness as far as you can see, you can completely clear your mind and focus on the present moment. You are immediately woven into the magical web of life. Disconnecting from technology, media and outside worries and tuning into nature allows us to reframe our priorities and truly appreciate this planet we call home. Practicing meditation, listening, journaling, focused breath work, Yoga, QiGong, or Tai Chi can all help us tune in and appreciate the present. Yet it’s always the peace beauty and harmony of wilderness that pulls me into it again and again.
Returning to urbanity: With schools re-opening soon and/or teachers beginning online lessons, parents are forced to take a more active role in education. It’s a hectic time, so even more important to surround ourselves with things that bring joy, comfort and peace. For me, getting outdoors provides all of that and more. Block-off time each day to go for a walk outside, take a hike, run like the wind or just sit quietly under a tree or in a park. Be outside, notice and appreciate.
In wilderness there are infinite worlds like this giant dandelion ready to spread its seeds.
All the logs on this park ranger’s cabin were clawed by grizzly bears!
Yellowstone Park contains some of the most fascinating geologic and seismic regions in the world. Much of the park is full of steaming, bubbling or exploding “geysers.” Geysers are formed by pressurized underground springs that erupt sending water jets and steam sometimes hundreds of feet in the air.
Standing on this bridge made us realize we were about to return to all we had tuned out during the last nine days. I already miss the sounds and sensations I found in the wilds–oh and my trusty horse Leo too! I can’t wait to tune in again.
Here are some good links for horsepack trips, camping, camp songs, equipment and other wilderness experiences: