Gravel dust swirls in the warm air, stirring more with each step I take. To my left are rows of flowers, with colors spanning the rainbow, smelling like a perfumery of floral and wood. To my right is a border of trees, protecting a wetland and habitat to rabbits, ducks, frogs, and many varieties of birds. Up ahead the crows call out, beckoning me to move deeper into the forest. Two butterflies dance in the sky, moving from one side of the pathway to the other, reminding me to be spontaneous and playful.
I have been an avid forest bather long before I even knew what it was. Nature’s cathedral of treetops has always been my place of peace, where I can turn off and allow everything else to fall away. The Japanese have coined the term “forest bathing”, and it has recently made a surge into our American lexicon, but for those of us living in the Seattle area, forest bathing has already been a part of life.
Forest bathing is not simply being outside, it is about immersion in the natural beauty that surrounds you. It is a break from devices, signals, and busyness. While there will be some people who tell you how to take a forest bath, it is more about embracing a being-ness that cannot be defined by another person. Forest bathing creates a daily escape from our workweek routine, and forges connection with nature, as well as our innermost thoughts.
When you emerge from your time in nature, you come out with renewed priorities, perspectives and focus on what really matters, instead of what you think should matter. You can walk, jog, sit, meditate, practice tai chi, do yoga, read, color, take photos, sing, laugh, or simply be. The more you allow each moment in the forest to lead and guide you, the better experience you will have.
I enjoy using this time for walking meditation, contemplation, connecting with the animals I encounter, tai chi on occasion, and taking photos. Each day is a different experience, even if I go back to the exact same place. The forest is my place for inspiration to jolt me to my next adventure.
Whether, I am sun gazing though the canopy, or pondering on the ripples in a pond, the forest reminds me of what is important for me in my life today. It is my therapist, my guide, and my theater, showing me all that I need to see.