When the weather gets warmer, it seems like everyone at St. Olaf leaves their shell of a college routine and steps outside. Suddenly, all of the crazy busy college students accept the present moment and enjoy the beautiful weather in a number of ways: frisbee, playing guitar or banjo on the lawn (surprise), napping, yoga, meditation, hiking, you name it. Unfortunately, sometimes it is extremely difficult to slow down the pace of a college weekday while still staying caught up in your classes and other commitments. If you feel overwhelmed after you spend three hours laying on the Mellby lawn or eating dinner in the adirondack chairs, you should try blocking off a small amount of time to be completely present in the outdoors without other commitments. This is extremely difficult, especially in our fast-paced, multi-tasking culture, but it seems that more than a few people on campus are looking for this change of pace. Certain student organizations are hosting events that promote a slow down, an appreciation of the beautiful weather and living with a certain intention. With some help of organized events on campus, here are a few ways to enjoy the outdoors in a memorable and therapeutic way during your crazy weekly schedule.
Any form of intentional movement, whether it is yoga, stretching or meditative practices, is a great way to enjoy the outdoors for a structured amount of time. Without any technological distractions, grab a few friends and stretch out in a sunny spot like a cat. If you prefer organized practice, take a meaningful walk down to the Art Barn and join the weekly yoga session from 3-4 p.m. every Sunday. Additionally, on Saturday, April 18, Mellby is hosting a yoga event on the front lawn. Bring a mat if you have one, and if not just enjoy moving with grass between your toes.
Some people (like me) automatically assume that art is off limits for “unartistic” people, but I’m not talking Picasso here. Grab some chalk, a coloring book, a t-shirt, your journal, some nail polish, whatever you consider creative and take it outside. Write what you feel, draw what you see, leave inspiring chalk messages on the sidewalk, play hopscotch or other games that bring you back to childhood recess or try to sit completely still for five whole minutes. Perform your art or keep it personal; regardless, enjoy the intention that goes into such practices and use it as an awesome homework hiatus.
Walking is something we take for granted. We rush to class, we assume exercise equals running and we don’t really think about the action of walking as we perform it every day. Next time you want some fresh air, walk around campus, the Natural Lands, down the hill, across the quad to your next class and intentionally give yourself extra time to walk. Look around you, put your phone permanently in your pocket whenever you walk, count how many animals you see or collect a piece of nature to bring back to your room and acknowledge your process of movement as something to be grateful for.
April 16 of this week was Quiet Day with Sustainabilities. A number of events focused on this very theme with activities involving coloring, discussing, reflection, meditation, biking, coffee, hiking and poetry. If you missed these events and want to get involved with likeminded people, look into getting involved in Sustainabilities, the Wendell Berry House, MASHAH, Interfaith Coalition or Ole Touring – all organizations that helped the Quiet Day happen. Enjoy your time intentionally and happy spring!