What is it about being in nature that makes us feel so good? The fresh, clean air, the scent of pine needles and leaves, the sun on our skin, listening to the birds and squirrels, and the list goes on. For me, being in nature is restorative, healing, a mood changer. My stress level goes down. I feel grounded, centered and at peace. I recently attended a Women’s Retreat at Camp duNord, in Ely, Minnesota. I was one of the facilitators and had the pleasure of leading two workshops, Let it Go, Let it Flow, and Discover the Artist’s Way. I also had time to be a participant and one of the workshops I attended was Forest Bathing. I was curious about the title and wanted to know more about this practice. A group of 10-12 women gathered on the porch of the dining hall and we learned a bit about Forest Bathing. It is a popular practice in Japan and is known for improving mental, spiritual and physical health. The instructor told us that by immersing ourselves in the forest or other natural environment, we would experience a sense of healing and wellness. The group proceeded across the road and into the woods. We were instructed to take our time, be present in the moment and connect to our senses. It was a magical experience. As I walked slowly along the wooded path, I listened to the various birds. I passed a stream running across the path and listened to the water splashing over the rocks. I stopped to inhale the scent of the various pine and balsam trees. What a fresh, woodsy smell. As I quietly moved along the path at my own pace, I was struck by the fact that I was part of a group, and yet separate in my experience of Forest Bathing. The autumn leaves were in full color and I noticed an array of hues from magenta, scarlet, bright orange and yellow green. What a spectacular canvas nature had painted for me! Even though I live in the city, I have my special places where I can experience this amazing, healing connection to nature. I have always loved being in nature and will remember this special time in the north woods each time I walk in the city. This post is dedicated to Jaime, our wonderful workshop facilitator.
What about you? When was the last time you strolled in the woods? How can you carve out time to immerse yourself in nature every week? It will be one of the best gifts you ever give yourself. Enjoy!