Wide Open Spaces. Heart Wide Open.

Big Bend National Park (where I went on family vacation last week) contains the Chisos Mountains surrounded by desert.  There are miles and miles and miles of wide open spaces.  These wide open spaces gave me a heart wide open.  The best way for me to share my experience with you is through a few words and phrases that have new meaning for me.

Let go. You know what it’s like to finish things at work and pack to leave for a vacation, right?  There’s so much to do that it seems impossible.  I was reminded last week that it is SO WORTH IT!  Once we drove out of the driveway I started to let go.  Every mile, every day, every night that passed allowed me to let go a little more.  I realized during the trip that this is the longest vacation I’ve taken since before my kids were born (and my oldest is 15!)  I needed to let go and just “be”.

Awe. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines awe as “a strong feeling of fear or respect and also wonder.”  Big Bend is full of awe-inspiring beauty, from the varied topography of the mountains to the beauty and functionality of the desert plants.  Recent research indicates that “the awe we feel when touched by the beauty of nature, art, and spirituality” can contribute to lowered inflammation and better health in the body. (“Can Awe Boost Health?”) I love it when science explains the concrete process for something that seems so abstract and intuitive.

Expansion. The wide open spaces of the desert gave me room to breathe.  The best way I know how to describe this feeling is expansion, space inside of me and a heart wide open.  I live in a big city and easily get caught up in the busyness of life.  My heart often feels heavy with challenges – my own, my family and friends’, and those that I serve.  That weight can become hard to bear.  My time in nature – in creation – allowed my heart to open and become light again.

Perspective. After a week away I feel different in my own home and in my own car.  Things here are the same but my perspective has changed.  I am more relaxed so I am more aware of my surroundings.  I have renewed depth of insight into myself and my purpose.

Savor. The ability to savor positive thoughts and experiences is so important to mental and emotional health. I have filled up my memory banks with scenes of nature, the sound of my kids’ laughing and deep connection with my loved ones.  I can continue to savor those memories for a long time to come.  The memory of wide open spaces allows me to maintain a heart wide open.

Next time you get a chance to go on vacation, I hope that you will experience these same benefits.  In the meantime, I hope you will take a moment to sit with one of these concepts.

Is there one thing that no longer serves you?  Are you willing and able to let it go?
Look around you for something that inspires awe.  Allow your sense of respect and wonder to grow.
Close your eyes and take a deep breathe.  Feel a sense of expansion as your lungs fill with air.
Think of a situation in your life that feels stuck. Is there a way to look at it from a different perspective?
Think of a recent positive experience.  Feel the feelings that you felt during that experience. Savor the feelings and the experience.
If you are planning your next vacation and want to see the wide open spaces of Big Bend, you will be well taken care of on an adventure with Far Flung Outdoor Center.