Comfortable in Our Own Skin
A friend was recently telling me about her experience trekking up a mountain in Colorado. She spent a few days on the route with a group from her church. With great emotion, she related the incredible impact this experience had on her. In particular, she was impacted by one of the days where they hiked solo, void of all distraction, save the mountain and the trail leading them onward.
As I write, I'm completing the tail end of a similar journey of sorts. Including flight time and layovers, I have been air traveling solo for 32 hours straight. Now, I'm the type of person who leads a life of constant stimulation from the minute I wake until my head hits the pillow again. Admittedly, some of this is by my design. Helping to get four kids off to school and daycare is a fraying experience. At work, I attack my patients' health problems, putting out fires and answering phone messages during the precious minutes between appointments. At home, it's back to the chaos of family. "I need a bag of grapes for class tomorrow!" "The printer won't print my homework!" and cries for "Milk!" from the little one. It seems as though, I'm always on high alert. So, forced relaxation is difficult for me to transition into.
After several hours forced "into my own skin," without distraction, amazing things start to happen. Thoughts, ideas, and perspective come rushing in. I can meditate and pray without losing my train of thought after 15 seconds, and I am able to reach an intense plane on different levels.
No matter which culture you're from, all of mankind strives to reach an elevated state through isolating the mind. Native Americans partake in vision quests. Aboriginal people take walkabouts. Spiritual people pray. Yoga takes its participants through exercises aimed at getting the mind to such a state. Examples abound, but the common factor is elevating the mind via relaxing and tuning out life's environmental distractions.
This process enhances our lives. The more we experience, the better. Studies show that people who do this regularly and do it well live more fulfilling and even lengthier lives. This discipline spills over into other aspects of our lives - organization, eating habits, outlook in the face of stressors.
For many, I am preaching to the choir. I recognize the challenges of prioritizing these types of building practices. May we all have more experiences trapped in our own skin, reminding us of the importance of isolating the mind toward better focus and more fruitful lives. Time to deplane with a new attitude!