As early as I can remember, I always enjoyed playing outside, drawn to the sights and smells of nature in the world of my tiny backyard. Perhaps my mom would have been more tolerant of my grass stains if she understood then, I was actually nurturing my source.
You don’t need to be a wilderness lover to know that our bodies and minds feel better when we are in nature. But, it was the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, that brought ecotherapy into the spotlight in 1980s with “Shinrin-Yoku” or forest bathing – the mindful, almost meditative practice of “bathing” yourself in nature, present in the moment, soaking in the atmosphere through your senses (no water required).
Researchers have since found that even a simple walk in any natural environment can have a profound effect on our wellbeing. For me, my hillside hikes reconnect me to the pace of what is real, and I feel a kinship to something bigger than myself. Calming us and providing oxygen, nature is always of service just by doing what it does naturally, being. Its restorative benefits are transformative.
How Nature Heals:
How Nature Soothes:
It even goes further. Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, makes you feel better emotionally. We experience an increase in pleasant feelings that overshadow anger and fear. And, when we focus on what we are experiencing out in the natural world, our overactive minds get a reprieve, refreshing us for new tasks.
Research done in hospitals and schools found that simply putting a plant in a room or having a window view of nature can have a significant impact on stress, anxiety, and healing.
Clearly, the benefits of forest bathing beg for our participation. Though, for many of us, it’s not as simple as heading out the door. It is accessible. However we get there – whether with images on our screen saver, a plant on a windowsill, or a stroll in the park – it’s up to us to seek the presence of the landscape that aligns us with the rhythm of the Universe. Soaking in those moments, we feel an intimacy with ourselves.
Where is your slice of nature that nourishes you?
Leave it to Anne Frank to put it in perspective: “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.”