Matt Niswonger

Welcome to issue #133. Summer is here and we hope you are enjoying it. As this issue comes together, we have spent the last few days at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City. The gathering is one of the major trade shows for the outdoor industry, drawing enthusiasts and professionals from across the country. Despite our diverse backgrounds, we are united by a shared love for the great outdoors — a common thread that binds us all.

After the hustle and bustle of the trade show, Cathy and I returned to our hotel room, feeling the fatigue from a day filled with conversations and connections. We turned in early, knowing that an early start awaited us.

The next morning, I woke up and began my daily meditation practice, something I’ve been committed to for the past few years. As I’ve shared in previous issues, meditation has become a cornerstone of my routine, helping to balance my mood, enhance my writing, and increase my overall happiness.

As often happens while meditating my mind wanders and I think about the show and what draws us to the outdoor lifestyle. I have an insight. We go outside to find relief from our own minds. The constant chatter of our inner monologue can be relentless and exhausting. Somehow we know instinctively that nature has the power to heal us. It provides a sense of inner peace by allowing us to cultivate “inner space.”

Inner space is a mental state free from the noise of worry, anger, and insecurity. We can nurture this space through outdoor activities, exercise, meditation, and yoga.

It’s uncomfortable to discuss, but the world is sick because many of us are mentally unwell. We feel trapped in our minds, struggling with our egos, and desperately seeking escape from our mental confines.

Ironically our digital devices have made the problem worse, not better. Designed as a way to stay better connected, social media platforms have been driving us apart as we spend hours per day hunched over our smartphones.

For me, a combination of meditation and nature therapy offers a solution to this personal and collective problem. These practices help me treat myself and others with compassion. While I still have a long way to go, I believe I have discovered a path to liberation — a path that involves daily doses of nature and meditation to create inner space.

I take solace in the words of the philosopher Eckhart Tolle. In his book The Power of Now he writes, “The secret of life is to ‘die before you die’ — and find that there is no death.”

The “death” he is promoting is a letting go of the egoic mind. Until we realize that strictly individual consciousness is an unfortunate and painful illusion, our collective and individual woes will continue. We must connect with nature to experience our truest selves.

A quiet mind is a blessing. That’s what I want for you. That’s what I want for myself. We hope reading this issue of ASJ inspires you to reconnect with nature, your truest self.

Thanks for reading my words. I hope you discover the beauty of nature this summer in a way that inspires and heals you. Start with a quiet mind and everything will flow smoothly after that.

We hope you enjoy the issue and embrace the outdoors!

 — Matt Niswonger


MAIN IMAGE: Summer 2024 Editors Note Post Lead