“The path of least resistance has a lot going for it. The comfort zone isn’t where you lose yourself. It’s where you find yourself.” ― Meghan Daum
We often talk nowadays about the need to get out of our comfort zones. In July, I wrote a post called “Chasing Our Dreams” about how we need to overcome fears, make plans, and act on our dreams. Leaving our comfort zones is important for our personal growth. But sometimes we need to put ourselves in a comfort zone and unwind.
Recently, I felt overwhelmed with stressful events. The world seems to be a little crazy, at least here in the United States. Politics have been divisive for a long time. And I was very upset by the recent revelations of past scandals in the Catholic Church, an institution I’ve trusted all my life. Besides all this, I kept seeing things that reminded me of my Mom, who died a few years ago. That jar of Ragu in a grocery store. Mom’s spaghetti sauce started with a jar of Ragu. That elderly women whose hair hadn’t turned gray. My Mom passed away in her 80s and still had thick, reddish-brown hair. Mom was a staunch Catholic, and I’m glad she didn’t know about the latest scandals in the Church.
So I was distressed on Mom’s birthday last week and needed some tranquility. I had a pass for a free tram ride at our local arboretum, and I decided to use it. The day was warm and sunny with a gentle breeze, and birds called as we passed lush, green woods and tall grasses in prairie areas. The driver told us many things I didn’t know and made trees seem exciting. By the time I got off the tram, I felt uplifted. I was less stressed and enjoyed a busy weekend celebrating my nephew’s wedding and my husband’s and daughter’s birthdays.
It is tempting to ignore the news, but “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (Edmund Burke.) Still, we need relief and time to regroup. I have talked about my efforts to make my home a place of sanctuary here . But it can be even more healing to get outside. I like to bring a cup of tea and sit on the bench on my front stoop or in the back yard.
But the arboretum is my favorite place of comfort. Many times, I give a sigh of relief as soon as I enter the arboretum grounds. The natural beauty is soothing. I also enjoy everything I do there: running, hiking, driving on the curving roads, or sitting on a bench with a hot chocolate. In the summer, Ken and I listen to bands there on Wednesday evenings with a glass of wine. In the winter, the arboretum puts on a beautiful interactive show of lights and music. I’m fortunate to have this arboretum in my home town, and I find it surprising when I hear of local people who have never been there. What are your favorite outdoor spots in your town? Do you visit them?
Coincidentally, today is the first International Forest Bathing Day, and Ken and I took a free guided forest therapy walk at the arboretum. Our guide Brenda reminded us that until the Industrial Age, humans spent most of their time outside. Now we spend most of our time inside. This is why we need to seek out time in nature. Brenda invited us to experience the arboretum using our senses—for example, by noticing the smells and feeling the breeze on our skin. It was a relaxing experience, and we finished by drinking tea made from foraged herbs.
Brenda closed with the Apache Blessing, which is my wish for you:
May the sun bring you new energy by day
May the moon softly restore you by night
May the rain wash away your worries
May the breeze blow new strength into your being
May you walk gently through the world
And know its beauty all the days of your life.
How do you soothe yourself when you feel distressed? Do you have a favorite place of comfort?