December Stillness

 

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December holds many opportunities for new beginnings.  There are holidays that inspire us to celebrate joy and peace in our lives.  It is the last month of the calendar year, inspiring us to reflect on our lives both past and future.  In December, and every month, there is a new moon which offers a great place in time to plant a new seed of growth.  For me it is my birthday month where gratitude plays an especially big role in my thoughts and actions.  And there is the winter solstice, the longest night (or shortest day) before we turn with the sun.  These are all points of focus which can inspire us to change. 

At the center of all these events is a stillness.  It is important to offer attention to the stillness in these moments.  This is where we find balance.  We can also note what’s out of balance, and from these observations we can choose to make a deliberate change in our lives or we can simply allow room for spontaneous action.  Tonight, in honor of the winter solstice, my exercise will be to sit for 30 minutes.  This will be a time to just be mindful of breath, appreciate the stillness and mark the balance within.

Day 16: A Hike

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Of all aerobic activities I am most at home with hiking.  I have spent my life traversing trails all over the country and find that no matter where the trail is it puts me right where I want to be…in beauty and peace.  Hiking a trail energizes our body and uplifts our mind.  It connects us to the elements and brings lively encounters with wildlife.  It can be as casual or ramped up as you choose. And it is perfect when walked in solitude or shared with others. 

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Today I shared a hike with my little guy.  In December, around where I live now, one usually hears the sound of snow crunching underfoot.  Today, however, we’re still crunching on leaves.  We don’t mind!  I ramped up the hike by carrying my toddler in a backpack, adding at least 25 pounds to my weight (hence increasing the weight bearing benefits of walking).  We walked for 40 minutes before I put the little guy down to let his own feet cover some ground.  The pace of the hike slowed down considerably, but the connection with nature and to each other remained.  We became more scrutinizing: each little pebble, crooked stick, and tuft of moss was delighted in and loved.  I cherish the moments in which I watch my son finding his own space and connection with nature.

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For the weeks leading up to my birthday I contemplated what goal I wanted to achieve this year.  Not an easy process as my history of goal setting has been rife with incompletes.  As I reviewed my history I recognized my tendency to choose objectives that 1) did not interest me, though I thought they did. 2) required me to learn something in an unreasonable amount of time.  Or 3) required me to let go of something that stripped my life of joy.  I saw that I needed to contemplate what my own interests are instead of reaching for some goal in the clouds.  And I needed to be reasonable.  Not limiting, just reasonable.

On December 1st of this year I set out on a mission to balance body and mind.  I realize that achieving homeostasis is a daily practice and not measured by a final goal.  And there are many, many steps to take in creating harmony in our body and mind.  My commitment to myself is this:  365 days of exercise (be it a walk, hike, bike, run, yoga, alternate nostril breathing, anything) for 20 minutes a day.  One day at a time.  From this promise I will remain open to other intentions that arise and allow myself to follow new challenges.  I will track days here to share my experience and hope you will join me for the inspiration and support.  Join me in contemplating or setting your own reasonable personal goal.