In 2007 the CDC reported that antidepressants had become the most frequently prescribed drug, eclipsing drugs for high blood pressure. 118 Million scripts were written in 2005. This number continues to grow.
I wonder what would happen if more people strapped a snowboard to their feet and got on top of a mountain and slid down? Perhaps fewer prescriptions would be needed.
Snowboarding (or skiing, whichever you prefer) is a natural antidepressant. You are outside enjoying the outdoors, breathing pure mountain air, and if you are in Vermont, engaging panoramic views of the Green Mountains (and on a clear day, the White Mountains of New Hampshire).
Sliding down a mountain at high speed invites you to be mindful, in fact, demands it! If I start thinking about what I am doing or how fast I am going, then what happens next is not going to be pretty. When I can give my attention without reservation to the exerpences of riding, something magical happens. It resembles what I imagine flying feels like — a sense of freedom, ease, and weightlessness. Speed is joyful; carving a turn with mindfulness connects me to the mountain, we are one.
I find there is a paucity of experiences that tell us without equivocation that we are alive, that are thrilling in the way that snowboarding is.
Of course, it’s easy to be mindful when you know what you are doing and have these exceptional circumstances. It’s more of a challenge to engage when the consequences are not so acute — here in now in this ordinary moment. Each moment holds the potential to be thrilling when we become fully mindful. However, snowboarding just makes this blatant. In this way, exceptional circumstances can help build the confidence to find mindfulness in any moment.
And, of course, it just feels good. If you are like most adults, you don’t get enough play.
Snowboarding is not for everyone. The challenge is to find the activities that are right for you, that let you know you are alive, that invite exquisite mindfulness into your life explicitly, that integrate you with nature. If you live in a northern clime, finding enjoyable wintertime activities and remaining active are crucial for combatting the winter blues.
Whatever your activity of choice is, enjoy. Mindfulness won’t be far behind!