Recently I was in Arizona up in the mountains near Prescott. The land in Arizona is generally dry, brown, cactus and boulders; however, if ou go a bit higher in altitude you can be surrounded by high green trees, streams, moss and of course boulders and rocks. Being surrounded by these trees immediately calmed me. Walking along the moss covered ground, listening to the water flow and the birds chirp I felt centered and less stressed. This was for me forest bathing. It was a time to breathe, cleft, heal and give gratitude for being alive. The Japanese use forest bathing, Shinrin-yoku, as a form of therapy to treat the many ailments that come from their workaholic lives in urban centers.
Forest bathing does not require strenuous exercise but rather a leisurely stroll which allows you to savor the moment, open up your senses and notice everything around you. As I strolled through the forest with my granddaughter she pointed out some bark on a tree that smelled like ginger bread! We went up close and literally hugged the tree taking in it’s delicious scented bark. We also were witness to a herd of deer that galloped away deeper into the woods. As we sat by the gurgling brook we closed our eyes in meditation to really hear the sounds around us. We paused and took long, slow, deep breaths.As we scanned our bodies we let go of tension and tight muscles. We visualized breathing in and out with the trees surrounding us.
John Muir a naturalist and conservationist ( 1838-1914 ) said………….
” Keep close to Nature’s heart….and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain
or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
So I urge you to go for a walk in the woods and look around. Play a game to look for things – delicate plants, moss, lichen, poop droppings, veins in leaves, branches old and new, the wind, the light, the various insects, birds and other animals. Listen, touch, smell – use all of your senses to awaken yourself. The gifts you will receive from forest bathing are pure grace, pure gratitude. Let us choose joy and honor the trees, knowing that the ground we walk on is sacred.
If you have had any experiences in the forest please share them below. We would all love to hear them!
There are several places you can partake in Forest Bathing! Here are few for you to explore.
Mohonk House offers Forest Bathing
Duncan Murdoch’s Nature Walks on his meetup.com page. If you would like to be added to his e-mail list to receive announcements before they go public, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 718-753-8443.