Nature and relaxation: cop a squat!


June 2nd, 2006 by Sit up a Tree

BudMany people feeling the effects of stress try meditation and often use tapes of bird song or CDs with the sound of crashing waves to soothe them into a state of relaxation.  These can be ideal, enabling you to get away from it all for a little while with a just set of headphones.   But it’s worth remembering if you’re able to get outdoors that taking a walk or sitting under a tree can be every bit as therapeutic.

Just watching nature is an excellent way to calm your mind.  Find yourself a patch where you can take in nature regularly throughout the year, watching when the leaves, blossoms, and seeds appear and when they fall.  Recognizing bird songs or listening to how the volume of the birds rises and falls with the volume of the traffic  Doing this often enough practitioners of this natural therapy found that they had not only become their own almanac for that location but also that they had created an inner space within themselves that was free of the stresses of their daily lives.  Not to mention finding a new interest in nature to distract them from their problems also!

“Teach us to care and not to care.
Teach us to sit still.” – T.S. Eliot

In the movie ‘Pretty Woman’ Richard Gere plays a stressed-out and out-of-touch businessman. Julia Roberts teaches him (among, ahem, other things) how to to relax by taking off his shoes and as she called it ‘copping a squat’ in the park.  I like that phrase.  It implies something stolen and reclaimed and indeed both the act of taking a moment out of our busy days to notice our own natural habitat and the act of squatting have been taken from us in the Western world. Traditional peoples the world over, where people don’t sleep in beds or sit on chairs, know the benefits of both!

CloudsChair and desk culture has done a lot of damage to us all by forcing us to sit in a position that does a lot of damage to our spines and wider health.  Personally I would love to have the level of flexibility to be able to squat comfortably for long periods as people of other cultures do.  In Western culture the squat is regarded either as a brief muscle building lunge or as a stress position for interrogating military prisoners.  But the health benefits from squatting extend beyond just improving your posture. (This site for example claims a whole raft of health benefits to squatting in the bathroom too!)  Thankfully you can teach yourself to squat comfortably for longer periods.  Begin by aiming for a 30–second squat, then next time try for a minute and so you build up.

So find yourself a ‘sit spot’ but better yet make it your ‘cop a squat spot’!

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This entry was posted on Friday, June 2nd, 2006 at 3:41 pm and is filed under Stress Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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