In this 200th anniversary year of the birth of Henry David Thoreau, each of us can increase our health and well-being by applying his guidance to our regular exercise activities. Thoreau, one of the United States' greatest writers, naturalists, and philosophers, not only walked the length and breadth of Concord, his beloved hometown in Massachusetts, but also walked and hiked far and wide across farms, riverbeds, parklands, and mountains all over Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.



In baseball, hitting for the cycle means that a batter hits a single, a double, a triple, and a home run during the same game. Hitting for the cycle is a rare baseball event, occurring about as often as a no-hitter by a pitcher. Certainly, a great deal of skill is involved in accomplishing such a feat. A batter needs to have a good eye, quick hands, speed, and a little bit of luck. If we consider that we're involved in playing the game of life, we could ask ourselves what it might take to "hit for the cycle" in our regular pursuits. We'd want our "cycles" to be things we succeeded in all the time.



Comparisons between the inner world and the outer world have been frequently drawn by philosophers, nature writers, and visual artists. For example, "seeing the universe in a grain of sand" is a well-known aphorism. The number of neurons in your brain has been compared to the number of stars in the Milky Way. The golden ratio (1.618), derived from the Fibonacci sequence, is demonstrated in flower petals, pine cones, nautilus shells, and human DNA. In this same manner, another comparison may be made between wildfires and our internal system of fires known as inflammatory processes.



Mindfulness programs and practices frequently describe a process of locating your "center." One's center may be conceived as a focus of energy, both spiritual and physical, by which all activities may be grounded and from which all activities flow. Similarly, ballet teachers and gymnastics instructors enjoin their pupils to "work from your center," meaning that the student's spins, leaps, kicks, and other choreographed movements should emanate from a central region of power. As well, coaches of many sports disciplines, including baseball, football, and basketball, encourage their athletes to "stay focused" and "see the ball going through the net." All of these injunctions are designed to remind players to reconnect to their center -- their focus of disciplined strength, quickness, and coordinated activity.



Whether we're driving a car, riding a bike, or trying to record a spare at our local bowling alley, our musculoskeletal system bases its decision-making on past history, that is, what it has learned before. Drawing on years of experience, recorded deep within our muscle memory, we're able to avoid an unexpected obstacle in the middle of the road, or adapt quickly to a slip on a slick spot on the bowling lane. The history embedded within our physiology immediately directs our actions in the present moment. We don't have to think about these things. We react — and act — instantaneously, and more often than not, the right result just happens.