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It’s Summer! Hurry Up and Relax!

An exercise to relax ... and connect with summertime.

Summer weather beckons us outdoors for a healthy dose of playtime. But before you grab your bocce ball set, water skis, or wakeboards, consider that recreation doesn’t require equipment. That blissful relaxation you seek can happen anytime, anywhere, without any preparation at all. You just need to be.

If, like many of us, you’ve become a human doing rather than a human being, regressing can be tricky. But it’s essential to your well-being.

Here’s your assignment: spend five uninterrupted minutes outdoors, observing your natural surroundings. Follow Henry Thoreau and Annie Dillard’s lead. Whether you’re in the wilderness of Grand Teton National Park or beneath a shade tree in a supermarket parking lot, take a moment to notice the abundance around you. Focus on one living thing: a plant, animal, insect . . . whatever. Not a person. Look at it carefully. Observe its movement, its texture. Describe its coloring to yourself. Does it smell? Can you hear it? Engage all of your senses. Don’t speak. Don’t snap a photo of it with your iPhone. You aren’t documenting this for later. You’re here, now, with this fellow inhabitant of earth. Ponder it. How did it get here? What part of its life cycle are you now witnessing? Note as many details as you can. Observation is a form of meditation. By focusing your attention you train your mind to let go of the chatter, the endless to-dos lurking in the periphery. You simply . . . relax. And in so doing, you connect with the wild, inexplicable world to which you belong.