Healing with Trees

One of my favorite things to do is to get out and hike.                wildwood
Even in the city I can find a patch of forest and immediately
feel renewed.

There is something so healing about walking on dirt, needles and leaves and being under the cover of those amazing, sentinels of peace – the trees.

I hear the air moving in those high tree tops, birds singing and even the smallest creatures, the insects, buzzing and doing their thing. In the forest, I can get quiet enough to pay attention to such things and when I get quiet like that, I also find I begin to settle in and pay better attention to the quiet inner voice of my heart. That voice, the one that speaks in whispers and reminds me that like the trees, I am peace.

I just learned that in Japan, walking in the woods is a proven practice that has become a cornerstone of preventative healthcare and healing. It is called Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing .  The practice was identified in the 1980’s and has even been extensively researched. Studies have shown a multitude of benefits which include:

♦ boosting of the immune system
♦ lowering of blood pressure
♦ stress reduction
♦ improvement of mood
♦ increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
♦ accelerated recovery after surgery and illness
♦ increased energy levels
♦ improved sleep

Of course, people have recognized the healing benefits of getting out into nature well before the ‘80s but it is cool to know that science supports our anecdotal experience of being with the trees.

So this is what I have been doing, forest bathing, or literally “taking in the forest atmosphere”.  If you too are a seeker of peace you may have already found the forest as a place to reconnect. But, if you haven’t yet or you want to go deeper with your forest practice, here are some suggestions for fully experiencing healing with trees:

omgo by yourself, get really quiet; listen on purpose, experience what and how deeply you can hear

omgo with a friend, but walk without talking; listen together, be intrigued and curious

omfeel the ground under you; walk slowly and intentionally, feeling the contours of earth with your feet

20160423_101709omtouch the forest with your hands and with your eyes; look around, see the different colors of green, see the dew drops or rain drops                 glistening on leaves, see the vast variety of textures; leaves, moss,               bark – appreciate nature’s designs

omtaste the forest; forage – find mushrooms, eat berries* – salmonberries, huckleberries, those little wild raspberries – they                 don’t taste the same as our cultivated fruits – they taste more like                 nature.
             (*please be sure you know what is truly edible and eat only that! Don’t eat
               alongside the most well-traveled trails or where there is any likelihood of                              chemical sprays.)

omlie down in a bed of needles underneath low tree boughs…look up through the branches, appreciate their structure; sit awhile in an open glen – enjoy the blue of                 sky in your own secluded moment

omhug a tree…no really, hug one, or many! Throw your arms around them like old friends.

Say thank you. Ask the trees what you need to know. And send me a note or leave a
comment to tell me what you find out!

With so much love,

Leslie_Signature

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