I am on my way back to this old house, God and the airlines willing. This past week, we did a driving trip through Yellowstone and then up into Montana to visit family.
Driving through the West is one of my favorite vacations. This year has been exceptionally lovely as we have had an extended autumn with no early snow interruptions to wreck the colors. Fall began for us in Alaska where the gorgeous leaf color was in full swing over Labor Day. It continued back in Colorado for the past month and is winding down in Yellowstone and Montana. What a gift!
The warm days and clear blue skies have been soul-lifting as well. Going swimming in a mountain river in mid-October is normally not my idea of fun but it was over 70 degrees the day we were at the Boiling River in Yellowstone. The cold water from the Gardiner River mixing with the scalding hot water from the mineral springs pouring in from the river banks made it a wonderful soaking time.
We also soaked in a mineral springs hot tub in Thermopolis, Wyoming. Afterwards, in both cases, I was like a limp rag doll and slept for hours. I was also very thirsty and drank a lot of water after getting out. Apparently, the minerals combined with the heat relaxes one’s muscles deeply as well as doing some de-toxing.
Despite my husband’s skepticism about it all, the hot mineral water also healed up a bad chilblain I had developed on my left thumb. Help with circulation is one thing mineral hot springs supposedly do and chilblains are a result of damaged circulation, in my case from driving with no gloves on cold steering wheels. I continue to marvel at the healing powers God has put into Nature.
In addition to the bodily de-toxing I experienced, I have also been trying to “de-tox” my soul through the intentional practice of slowing: eating more slowly and with more awareness, noticing more deeply my surroundings, not being anxious about the next activity but being fully present in the moment. A complete change of scenery and routine can be a good time to start a new spiritual practice of any kind. With “normal life” on hold for a bit, I know I tend to be more aware and open to new things.
The trick then becomes maintaining the practice once I am home. While I am a strong proponent of structure in life, sometimes my structures become ruts or bad habits. I am using my airplane time, forced transitional time, to reflect on some things I learned while on this trip and to commit to ways I might continue to “stop and smell the roses” once I hit my front door with a list a mile long to accomplish before going back to work.
Christine Valters Paintner made a good suggestion of a way to do this: stop and breathe at the end of one activity before beginning the next one. I don’t know about you but some days, I feel lucky to breathe at all, let alone intentionally between projects. But now, with the experiential knowledge of what deep relaxation feels like after those mineral pools, I may have an idea of what that small practice could help me be even when I can’t completely stop my routine and soak under a star-filled autumn sky in the warm healing mineral water the earth produces in some places.
Hear is to intentional breathing!