Frozen and Flowing

by johnandterri

170201-Pettisoat Falls-123-Final

This past winter I have been blessed to go on several winter hikes to some frozen waterfalls and rivers. The photograph above was taken of Petticoat Falls a short bushwhack off the Suiattle River road.

I was going through some of my best photographs of the frozen waterfalls and the concept of something “frozen next to something flowing” came to my mind. This thought got me thinking about something I read in the book I mentioned in the last blog entry  about the restorative and healing power of nature in our lives.

This book points some scientific evidence regarding what is going on in our brain when we immerse ourselves in nature. It turns out that by taking time to get out into nature we rest the prefrontal cortex of our brain. This is part of our brain that does what I would call the  “heavy lifting”. It is responsible for decision-making and priorities and execution. By spending time outside in nature we give our prefrontal cortex time to relax and rest – to chill out – we “freeze” it.

The value of this, is what happens to the other portions of our brain, called the “default network”. It gets a chance “to flow”. To kick in. This is the part of our brain that gives us our most human experiences, our deep aesthetic sense, our ability to do the deep things that are unique to us. It is the part of the brain that produces empathy, creativity and heights of insight.

Walking the Camino de Santiago, provides you with lots and lots of time for “default brain network” thinking. It was so helpful for both Terri and I and to many of the pilgrims we walked with. It is amazing how restorative and healing it can be for us to have time like this. To give our “Prefrontal Cortex” a break from all that executive and tasked focus thinking – to freeze it and let our creative and deep thinking portion of our brains “to flow”.

I believe this is more important than ever as we are living in some very high paced and competitive times where every spare moment is filled up with activities, planning and organizing and executing tasks. Our prefrontal cortex is working overtime and needs rest. We need to put it on the “deep freeze” and let our default network of our brain take over more.

I will end this blog with a quote from the book I mentioned quite a bit during the Camino walk. It is called “Sabbath”. We need rest, guys. Get out in nature. Take time to rest your prefrontal cortex!

““And so we are given a commandment: Remember the Sabbath. Rest is an essential enzyme of life, as necessary as air. Without rest, we cannot sustain the energy needed to have life”

Blessing and all Good,


Photograph of the Week

Flowing and Free

This is a wonderful image taken on hike to Boulder Falls two weeks ago. It reflects the idea of a free flowing “default network brain” to me!