Originally Published March 28, 2013
In this short three-part series, I want to talk about the real impact being outdoors has on us–whether we’re doing anything athletic or not.
The difference in being indoors vs outdoors is monumental, yet rarely talked about. The subject deserves enormous attention, given that we spend a massive percentage of our time inside. Yet we take that powerful fact for granted. We look at health problems, mood problems, and energy problems all within the context that we are indoors, and no one thinks anything of it. Yet what would happen to these commonplace problems if we started spending lots of time outdoors instead?
How could something that seemingly insignificant really make a difference?
Much more than a change in scenery, it exposes us to powerful sources of prana (energy) that we can tap into at absolutely any given time. Like any power source, we can hook ourselves up–free of charge!–and get flooded with energy that our body can use for whatever it needs including physical energy, mental energy, healing, and lifting our mood.
In short, when we are indoors, we are surrounded by non-living items or materials. The building we are in, the furniture we sit on, and the air we breathe do not vitalize us (aside from the necessary oxygen in the air).
When we are outdoors, we are surrounded by living things that literally give off energy, also called prana, chi, and ki, that our body readily and automatically absorbs.
Prana is the metaphysical “invisible” energy that pervades absolutely every single living and non-living thing in existence. It is the foundation that makes up living and non-living physicality. It is an absolutely vital component of our bodies. In fact, energy is more than a component, but is really the underlying source that gives rise to our physical bodies. Prana is so important to our existence, we could not survive even a nanosecond without it, while we can go minutes without oxygen.
Prana makes it possible for us to perform any activity or function. When we use the word “energy” in day-to-day conversation, we talk about how much ability we have to stay awake, work, talk, drive, and do our daily activities. Prana translates exactly into this everyday concept of energy. You can see how very important it is that we have lots of it!
The first living thing we immediately get to come into contact with when we are outside is fresh air. I think we can fairly call it living air because it is FULL of prana. In Pranic Healing, we call this type of prana “air prana” (which has different properties from solar and earth prana). We can literally tank up on prana just by breathing it!
Air prana is also the primary source of prana absorbed by our chakras, particularly the spleen chakra whose primary function it is to absorb prana from the environment, break it down, and distribute it throughout the body.
Inside air can’t compare. Once we have filled our indoor areas with fresh air, the prana will soon be used up as we breathe–though, of course, it won’t ever be completely gone, as we are always surrounded by energy. Inside, however, we aren’t tapped into the real, living source of it, and energy levels can become low.
We use the word “fresh” to describe air that comes from outside because we know intuitively there is a difference. Outside air is clean, living, and just FRESH. Indoor air, by contrast, has been circulating and re-circulating and we can just feel the difference. It is not fresh. When we say, “open a window, let’s get some air in here,” we know that the air outside has something valuable that we need.
In the winter months, we often feel sluggish. How many of us complain of being tired and droopy? There’s a reason coffee is so popular! We blame it on the cold weather, our cravings for heavier foods, and (in the Pacific Northwest), the lack of sun. These are certainly partial causes, but a very important and overlooked cause is the fact that we are mostly indoors and just don’t absorb the prana every day that we do during the summer when we are frequently outside.
In depressed people, the overall aura and chakras are low in energy. This is particularly the case with the basic and spleen chakras which are very important in supplying the body with energy for physical as well as emotional needs. Have you ever met a depressed person with tons of energy? No. The two go hand-in-hand. This is why getting outdoors has been shown time and again to assist in healing depression.
How can we get the prana we need when we feel sluggish and it’s winter and yucky out there??
First, it is very important to realize HOW important it is to stay exposed to these natural sources of energy year-round. In a recent scientific study I read outdoor and indoor exercisers were compared. The outdoor exercisers got into better shape and reported a better mood. There is clearly a difference between doing the same activity outside and inside.
Next, we make a point to get contact with these sources of energy as much as physically possible.
While we all have a seeming natural aversion to cold weather, rain, and gray days, a few excursions outside with a brisk walk, run, or bicycle ride will quickly change your perception of them. It feel so GOOD. You’ll burst back inside rosy-cheeked, invigorated, and downright cheerful!
I recommend one simply push over that hurdle, get bundled up, and go out–just DO it! Once outside, breathe deeply from the abdomen and take in all the fresh oxygen and prana the planet has to offer!
I also recommend cracking open a window or two whenever possible. Here in Seattle, we do not have freezing temperatures all winter long, and there are plenty of opportunities to leave a window open partway. This is especially beneficial at night if it is our bedroom window where we can take in prana-charged air for many hours while our body sleeps and recharges. At the very least, put on a coat and hat and open all the windows for an hour and then shut them again afterward. This will at least exchange old stale air for fresh air.
Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to convince people of in their effectiveness. But the simple small habit of getting out-of-doors really can and will make a difference in your health and how you feel, and fast too. Don’t believe me? Try it! 🙂