“….what is my work, ….standing still and learning to be astonished. Mary Oliver, The Messenger
In his book Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help you find Health and Happiness, Dr. Qing Li shares a Japanese practice called forest bathing. He has conducted numerous studies that show the health benefits of forest bathing. Nature eases stress and worry, helps us to relax and to think more clearly. Being in nature can restore our mood, give us back our energy and vitality, refresh and rejuvenate us.
When we unplug from technology, slow down, and relax into the beauty of nature, our bodies and minds de-stress. I first heard about forest bathing a couple of years ago and recognized the truth of nature as healer. The natural world is a place I go for joy, for solace, for experiencing a sense of awe and wonder. I feel connected to something greater than myself when I am in the natural world.
Dr Li says, “The key to unlocking the power of the forest is in the five senses.” When I walk the trails of the park behind my home I intentionally practice engaging all my senses. The sound of the birds and small mammals, the smell of the forest floor, the variation of greens throughout the park, and the feel of the earth beneath my feet. I don’t easily experience taste unless the salmon berries are out.
He recommends we find a place close by that brings us nature’s gifts. It could be a park, a tree in your backyard, any place that helps you relax and let go of the day. Above is a picture of where I go when I need a forest bath. It is less than a quarter of mile from my home. Walking there, I sit on a rock and listen to the rippling water cascade down past a wonderful old cedar tree. The sound of water always nourishes me.
I hope you can find a place you can retreat to, if only for 30 minutes. Give yourself the gift of a forest bath each day to support your body, mind, and spirit.