With an active puppy, my usual post/pre work runs had to change a bit in order to make everyone happy. Roxie loves to run free in the woods, and I know it is better for her joints to let her explore without being tethered to my hips for miles and miles.
We are so blessed to have numerous wooded running trails and a creek for water and swim stops along the way, less than a mile from our home. Roxie and I have a usual route, but last weekend we had a lot of energy, and we were both feeling a bit adventurous.
During our run Roxie began to travel down a different trail, and I followed. After 15 minutes of running I start to really look at our surroundings. The woods we stumbled across felt new, there wasn’t much brush on the ground, and there were random parts of wire fencing that were now destroyed by weather, trees, and potentially people.
I start to feel like this would be a good place to slow down, meditate, and explore. I begin to wonder what the fence was for. Was the intent to keep people out, or in? I then start to see stairs, a brick foundation that is no longer a building. We witness sidewalks that have been taken over with grass and a big staircase that leads to nowhere, with trees sprouting right through the concrete.
I try to imagine the people that lived or worked in this space and I can tell that Roxie is drumming with excitement. Through our adventure, it feels as though the trees are laughing taking over and mocking what used to be.
After an hour completely alone running around in the woods, we meet an older gentleman with his 10-year-old dog. We started with casual hellos, and after a few moments I asked him if he knew anything about this land.
He informed me it was the site of a sanatorium, built in 1915. It started out as a treatment container for tuberculosis victims but it also had war victims, mentally ill, and any individual that they didn’t know how to treat. Suddenly the large fences made sense, and why it almost felt like nature had its last laugh, taking over every part of the land with greenery.
There was great peace and joy exchanged within our quick conversation. His love for the land, and what a gift it has been for him and his beloved dog. He wished us well and many years of joy running around in the woods.
As we started to run home I began reflecting on the lessons I had learned that day:
#1 Nothing is Permanent – Although to those misunderstood and tormented, the sanatorium must have felt like an eternal cage, now there is nothing but concrete and bricks to remind us that it existed at all. I hated it when my mother would remind me ‘this too shall pass.’ Now I am coming to terms with this fact of life. The good, the bad, and the ugly - it all passes. Instead of gripping or pushing away, if we learn to truly be in the moment, we might have fewer regrets during our last days.
#2 We are more connected than we realize – I really do not take the time to think about the people that used to walk down my street, or lived in my home. The truth is, the decisions made 100 years ago really did shape the lives we lead today. Even now, the ripple effect of our decisions – where we eat, where we shop, how we travel, even the energy we put out into the world - will dramatically change the world around us and the lives of those 100 years from now, even if our name, title, and how much money we made is forgotten.
#3 Control is just and illusion – We think we can confine our life, our thoughts, our things, but yet nature will always win. Seeing trees grow through concrete and breaking down fences really demonstrated that even though we think we can contain our lives, the container is just temporary. Instead of focusing on control, spend more energy experiencing – savoring more of our day-to-day life.
#4 Being in nature can help us find peace – I am very blessed to have a job with a wonderful schedule, that helps me support my family, and provides me with an opportunity to teach yoga most nights and weekends. The only downside – cubicles. I watch as people are caddy, rude, and forget to realize they are working with people. This completely sterile environment is draining and difficult for anyone to work in. I started to think about the patients, confined to small rooms and realized our understanding of humanity and the need for nature hasn’t expanded since 1915. If you feel stuck in your head, and frustrated with life – go for a walk. Breath in the air, spend time looking at the trees and flowers. Practice yoga outside! Feel your breath and body connect with the earth and it might be a bit easier to find your inner peace.
#5 Beauty is all around us, we just have to open our eyes – A big part of living with joy and purpose has to do with our perspective. If we are looking and thinking about negative things, we will only see the negative. If we get out into nature and really witness the beauty of flowers, and how plants can grow in the seemingly most impossible places, we can see anything is possible.
Even on supposed ‘haunted land’ peace and love can be experienced. Then there is no doubt that you can find this joy and serenity in your own back yard. Want to experience this yourself? Lace up and get out there!
Would you like to experience outdoor yoga to connect more with nature? Join me Saturday, August 30th at 5 pm in Hart Park for OM Town Yogi’s outdoor yoga event, or Saturday, September 27th at 8:30 am at the Tosa Farmers Market.