Don't worry, get dirty.

Feeling down? It's February and a few lovely days sprinkle in here and there, but we've reached the time of year that many people get the winter blahs, looking forward to the spring days ahead. In keeping with yoga's philosophy of staying in the present moment, how can we enjoy this time of year? One truly excellent way would be to get outside and start digging around! Maybe trimming some of the dead plants from last year, or raking a few errant leaves that have swirled back into the yard. Possibly turning the compost pile, or gathering any fallen bark or twigs. If you don't have a yard of your own, ask any family or friends if they need a hand, yard work is tough to get to for many people these days, they'll be so grateful to you for your energy!

It turns out this won't just make your friends and neighbors happy, it will make you happy!! According to a recent study at the University of Bristol, the bacteria in dirt have the ability to boost seretonin levels in the brain! A girl I knew in high school once shared with me a phrase that for some reason has stuck in my head: "God make dirt, dirt don't hurt", funny what science often matches to old sayings and phrases. Many farmers and other planters will also tell you they feel good after a solid day working with the earth. In one study lung cancer patients anecdotally reported quality of life improvements after being treated with these soil bacteria. In another study, mice exposed to these bacteria were very interesting, choosing to swim instead of sink when placed in water. Yet another set of researchers have found seretonin to play a role in the immune system response but further research is of course needed to better understand this role. Read more detail about these thoughts here on the BBC's article about dirt boosting happiness.

I came across a very interesting few stories from a seasoned teacher, related to the power of positive thinking as well. This stemmed from my examining the research on how thought directed at water molecules could possibly affect the beauty of the crystals that they form, a bit of controversial research conducted by Masaru Emoto, a Japanese author. Teacher Xiua Shu shares these amazing stories about the power of optimistic thought on the web page PureInsight.org. Included are how trees grew strong, a fish tank stayed clean, and the story of two young girls fighting cancer.

Let us all pledge to remain as positive as we can. Sending this happiness to others (plant, animal, or person) may help them as well. Funny how the earth could make us happy, and maybe we can return the favor!


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