I do not know whether it is possible to love the planet or not,
but I do know that it is possible to love the place
we can see, touch, smell and experience.
~ David Orr, Earth in Mind
Nature is not a place to visit, it is home.
~ Gary Snyder
When we walk upon Mother Earth, we always plant our feet carefully
because we know the faces of our future generations are looking up at
us from beneath the ground. We never forget them.
~ Oren Lyons, Onondaga Nation
It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
When in nature it is not a time to rush. Slow down, stop and look at the gifts nature has blessed you with. Take in everything in front of you, above you, to each side.
What are you smelling – the flowers, trees, dirt, earth? Take off your shoes and feel the earth under your feet. Let the energy of the earth revitalize you. Look up and watch the leaves dancing in the breeze above. Is the sunlight shining through the spaces between the branches? Raise your hands above your head and move your body like the leaves dancing in the wind. Release all that is holding you back. How does that feel?
There is so much to see, smell, taste, feel, and connect with in nature if you just pay attention. When you are out, sit down and feel the earth. Let the dirt sift through your fingers. Feel the texture of the trees. Notice how each tree has a different shape, thickness and texture. Notice the trails – some are well worn while others are covered in moss or greenery.
Do certain sections of the forest feel like rooms? Maybe there are sections of trees protecting an area while other areas are open. What insects, little or big critters are scampering around through the trees, under foot, or along the dirt bath?
Pay attention to how the sunlight filters through and decorates the forest floor. Listen to the birds singing or sending out a warning signal. Sit and watch the dragonflies, butterflies and bees dancing from flower to flower. Can you find any edible plants along the path?
Forest bathing is learning to slow down and take in a section of the forest at a slow pace. There is no destination – just being present in the moment. Being mindful of life, of your surroundings. Slowing down to allow your body to heal. The forest has healing properties that are being discovered everyday. We have this beautiful gift if only we slow down enough to appreciate this blessing.
Last week I had my first experience facilitating Earth Walk with my client. After searching for several months I stumbled upon the perfect setting. A doctor had purchased a home and planted trees, flowers, and shrubs around the property. There are several ponds on the property and varieties of trees from around the world. There are many ‘rooms’ on the property with benches placed for a visitor to sit and contemplate the beauty that surrounds them. When he died the property was left for others to enjoy.
You can sit on a bench near a pond and watch dragonflies chase one another for hours. My client took her time and with my guidance she was able to release something that has been holding her back in life. We would walk to the various ‘rooms’ and she would sit on the bench and write in her journal. Then we would sit in silence until it was time to move on to another area. Sometimes after experiencing this type of walk you can feel melancholy for several days. After my first experience in New Mexico I traveled home and wasn’t sure what was happening to me. I felt sad but not depressed, a bit quiet and wanted to be alone, it felt like a loss or death. Which it actually was – a loss of what I had been holding on to for a couple of decades. We had buried something I had brought along and had a little ceremony to release. The night after our our ceremony I felt so upbeat and excited about the future it surprised me how melancholy had set in once I returned home. I reached out to Mary to share this experience and she said this was normal. You have to go through the stages of grief after releasing. After the week was over the scene from my memory could still rise up however it was like a movie that I no longer had any attachment to – it was someone else from long ago. It was a wonderful feeling to release that emotional connection. Two years later and I am still unattached to what had been a painful memory. Think about what you will be able to release while in nature? You can have your own ceremony.
When in nature give yourself the privilege of spending an hour or two in a state of relaxation. The beneficial effects will stay with you for days after the visit. If you can manage to experience this two or three times per week you will begin to notice the physical and mental health benefits. If you take someone with you try not to speak to one another during your walk – only to point out something that you are seeing, smelling, feeling – a shared experience. It is fine to bring a journal to write down what you are experiencing. If you are with another person after your experience sit down and discuss what you noticed and share your personal journey with one another if you wish.
Please let me know if you decide to experience this journey. I would love to hear from you.
Love and Light!