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Taking a bath in the woods


Image by Kazuend from Unsplash

I just adore the term “forest bathing”. It conjures fantastic images of rolling nude across the forest floor—perhaps on moss, perhaps through brambles, or a bog.

What does it conjure for you?

The actual term for the practice is Japanese, “shinrin-yoku” and it translates, literally, to “take the atmosphere of the forest”.


Let’s pause here. Give you a moment to calm the chuckles of imagining naked people cavorting in the woods.


When was the last time you were surrounded by trees and quiet? Can you imagine yourself there?


I can. I can smell the earthy scents, hear the rustles, the scampers and tweets—and not from my phone.


Even imagining it brings my heart rate down. Even thinking of it is relaxing me as I write. How about you?


That is the essence of why “forest bathing” is a real, legitimate, healing modality.


Most of our illnesses are caused by inflammation of one sort or another. Inflammation is certainly exacerbated by stress. Being in the forest in a mindful way reduces stress and, therefore, is therapeutic.


I remember a couple of years ago meeting someone who was trying to start a business as a forest bathing guide. I thought it was the height of silliness, but I have learned over the years to keep those thoughts at arms-length while I listen with an open mind. Do you notice that happens with you, as well? You might hear a whisper of something and when you remain open to it, it gradually grows louder until Aha—it makes sense.


My own experiences of being in the forest are reason enough for me to pay attention to this phenomenon. So when a dear friend invited me to join her on an actual shinrin-yoku expedition, I was all in.


It was a glorious afternoon with my friend inviting us to zero in and zoom out our attention on different things we passed as we walked in the woods. It was a time of stillness away from the other members of my party—which included some kids who were more intent on bashing sticks into rotting logs, but that’s what great about the woods—there’s something for everyone.


I sat. Attending to what was near and what was far. I stayed off my phone—except for the camera. It was a brisk and sunny day. My friend invited us to take off our shoes and socks.


I wiggled my toes in the dry leaves, I burrowed them in the dark soil. I connected with the earth and allowed the energy of the eons to mingle with my much-younger molecules—nothing like forest bathing to renew the sense of wonder and youth. Glorious.


I felt refreshed, grounded, and light.


I felt like an actual forest-dweller as I walked back to my car; my feet bare on the detritus of the woods. The sticks and gumballs vaguely uncomfortable under my chilly feet, but I was able to notice and connect—knowing I had a warm car to look forward to.


To hear me chatting with my friend, Live on Facebook, check out the videos in my private group. Contact me for the link!


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MY LATEST NEWS:


I cannot promise any forest bathing during my Meet You Where You’re At program—but I can promise awareness, connection, community, and healing. And lots of illuminating exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home—all while you’re getting the sugar out of your diet.


Contact me for details! Next class begins March 17th, 2021.


Resources:

Shinrin-yoku: forest bathing in Japan | Japan Experience (japan-experience.com)

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