I’ve talked about the benefits of hiking many times, but I have added another realm to my hiking finale. Last week I took to swimming across the lake at the end of my two hour hike. How amazing of a feeling. Hiking and being in nature is very much as important for spiritual or mental health as it is for physical health (although of course that benefits that as well). This swimming takes it to a whole other level! After two hours of hiking in 90 degree weather, that water is such a relief. It’s cool and clear. Who needs a pool that costs money and you have to take care of all the time? Look to nature where everything is already perfect. The water feels great on my muscles and lessens any pressure that I may have on my lower spine. It’s not a race, rather just slow strokes across. There is no rush to get to the other side or to hurry in getting out. Rather just BEING in the lake. Feeling the coolness of the water as my hands push it aside and I propel myself further alittle at a time. Playing with my senses like a child would, returning to what Dyer would call my true-self, where I’m not trying to convey myself to the rest of the world as society deems ‘appropriate’ or ‘normal’. I play at swimming under water. Initially just under the surface, but work towards diving deeper. It feels colder at the bottom and I challenge myself to dive a little further to embrace the burning in my lung as I reach the sunlit water surface knowing that they will once again be filled precious air; not fearing the water (or rather thinking of it as an analogy for not fearing death). I don’t look back, but just push myself further forward, eventually making it to the other side. This is something that I have found that I really enjoy and I wish others could have this kinds of experiences, especially with their ‘exercise’ and it’s something I’m going to continue to do. Thanks to Brennan for the idea to jump in the lake, which led to the idea of swimming across. I guess a pool would work similarly, but why not go out in nature (which just 5 minutes of forest bathing is associated with increased mood)?