Dear Friend and fellow Celt,
Back in the good old days, during my childhood and teenage years, I was always up for a pickup game of anything. Now, I wasn't a particularly skilled athlete, just average.
Sure, there were some sports I played, some above average and some below average. The one thing you could count on was that I would bungle the easy routine plays but then turn around and make a difficult great play.
I don't know if it was being outside, the physical activity, or a combination of both, but I remember coming home, showering, and feeling exhausted but energized at the same time. No issues getting a good night's sleep on those days.
My all-time favorite pick-up game memory was from the winter of 1986. It was a Sunday afternoon, and we were having a fairly big snowstorm on top of the 18 inches or so of snow already on the ground.
What to do on such a day? Well, about 12 of us boys were able to get out of the house and met on the local elementary school's snow-covered field.
And then commenced Snow Bowl I.
We had so much fun for about 3 hours, breathing in the cold snowy fresh air and getting our football on. It was great because we got so cold that we could feel no pain.
Speed had no impact in this game. Just tackling the ball holder and perhaps scoring a touchdown. Whenever someone was tackled, everybody else dog-piled on, even his own teammates.
On the verge of both frostbite and dinner time, we parted ways and headed to our respective homes. I proceeded to take a hot shower and eat dinner. I was so tired from the game that I went to bed early that night.
But when I woke up in the morning, something was wrong. My body wasn't working. It was ignoring commands from my brain. When I tried to force it, then came the pain. What was going on? Did I have a stroke or something?
I slowly and painfully got myself out of bed. Then I realized, oh shit, I am completely sore and banged up from Snow Bowl I the day before. I must have used muscles I had never used before because I had pains in places I didn't think could hurt.
At school that day, it was easy to spot the participants of Snowball I as we hobbled around with a “please shoot me” look on our faces.
But of course, when we ran into each other in class, the halls, or lunch, the first question was, "When are we going to Snow Bowl again?"
It was never to be. Snow Bowl I was the first and the last. That game will always be special to me.
So, now that I have waxed nostalgic long enough, let's delve into the wonderful world of outdoor sports and activities, focusing on how they can positively impact our mental health. Drawing inspiration from ancient Celtic traditions, we'll explore the rejuvenating benefits of engaging in these activities and spotlight one of the most beloved Celtic sports, Hurling.
The Celtic Love for Nature and Sports:
The Celts have always had a deep connection with nature and the great outdoors. They recognized that spending time in nature and participating in physical activities improved physical fitness and contributed to overall mental well-being. Today, we can still embrace this philosophy and tap into the countless mental health benefits that outdoor sports and activities have to offer.
The Healing Power of Outdoor Activities:
Engaging in outdoor sports and activities is a fantastic way to enhance our mental health. Here are a few key reasons why:
1. Stress Relief: When we immerse ourselves in nature, be it a lush forest or a serene shoreline, we allow ourselves to escape from the pressures of daily life. Outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, or even a leisurely stroll can help reduce stress levels, ease anxiety, and promote a sense of calm.
2. Physical Fitness: The Celts understood the importance of physical fitness for a healthy mind. Engaging in sports such as hurling, football, or rugby not only keeps our bodies in shape but also releases endorphins, the "feel-good" hormones that boost mood and energy levels.
3. Connection with Nature: The Celts believed that nature held immense wisdom and healing properties. We can establish a deeper connection with the natural world by participating in outdoor sports. This connection nurtures a sense of awe, gratitude, and inner peace, all of which contribute to improved mental well-being.
Hurling - The Ancient Celtic Sport:
When discussing Celtic sports, we cannot overlook the mighty game of hurling. With roots stretching back thousands of years, hurling is a unique and thrilling game that encapsulates the spirit of the Celts. It combines athleticism, skill, and teamwork, providing a wonderful opportunity to engage in physical activity while connecting with Celtic heritage.
Hurling, played with a small ball called a sliotar and a wooden stick, known as a hurley, involves intense and fast-paced action. The sport demands agility, hand-eye coordination, and strategic thinking. As players dash across the field, swinging their hurleys with finesse, they tap into the Celtic spirit of unity and camaraderie.
Participating in hurling not only provides the physical and mental health benefits associated with outdoor sports but also fosters a sense of community. The passionate support of fans, the dedication of players, and the shared joy of victory create a truly electric atmosphere.
Now, you may think that hurling sounds fine and well, but it is a young person's game. True, it mostly is. But that doesn't mean you can't get your hurley on.
Like playing catch with a baseball and glove, you can have a back and forth with somebody using hurleys and a sliotar.
Also, you can go solo by practicing balancing a sliotar on the hurley, doing tricks, and just bopping the sliotar around like a hacky sack. Count how many times you can go before dropping the sliotar, and keep trying to beat your record. You can do all of this sitting down (outside) as well.
It should be noted that there are also other outdoor Celtic sports, such as Gaelic football and handball.
Embrace the Celtic Spirit: Get Active!
As we strive for better mental health, let us embrace the Celtic spirit by incorporating outdoor sports and activities into our lives. Whether you choose to try hurling, explore other Celtic-inspired sports, or simply spend time in nature, you'll undoubtedly experience the uplifting effects on your well-being.
Remember, the Celts believed that by engaging in outdoor activities, we connect with our ancestors and the profound wisdom of the natural world. So, grab your hurley, and let the winds of Celtic inspiration carry you to a place of mental rejuvenation.
Until next time, may the Celtic spirit guide you on your path to wellness.
On Monday, May 1, 2023, I released my free guide, "10 Celtic Practices to Level Up Your Mind and Relieve Anxiety and Depression."
All subscribers were sent their very own copy of my Celtic goodness. If you did not receive it, please let me know, and I will make sure that you do. You can contact me at email@example.com.
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I am here to serve.
With a skeptical mind and an analytical eye,
"May the Road Rise to Meet You!"
Who is Mike?
Mike is a recovering accountant making his way through the world of Druid, Celtic, and Pagan traditions.
His goal is to uncover truly valuable Celtic, Druid, and Pagan practices that upgrade your mind (and life)—and here's the key—without any of the b.s. you find everywhere else!
P.S. - My awesome interview with Eimear Burke, Chief of the Order of Bard, Ovates, and Druids, is available on YouTube and your favorite podcast platforms. Check it out, you won't regret it!