Forest Bathing for Inspiration

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 theatre, showing me all that I need to see.

Why I Love Tai Chi

I began taking Tai Chi classes in September of 2013, simply looking for an exercise method that I could do wherever I was. What I soon came to discover was that Tai Chi also gave me a whole new set of tools to learn to harness my energy.

In our Tai Chi classes, one of the things we learn is how to project our chi (energy). Up until that time, I had never tried to do it consciously. I know that my energy projects when channeling or teaching a class, but I was not thinking about it during those times. So, to learn how to project my chi by thought has become a wonderful tool for me in many ways.

One of the first things I noticed when we begin to learn about the energetic aspect of Tai Chi (which we do in Grandmaster Wang’s Search Center style, taught by Ted Libby) was that the next day I felt like I had just channeled. The effects on my energy body were the same after participating in Tai Chi class as they were when I was channeling. Over time, Tai Chi has increased (and will continue to do so) the amount of energy I can hold and the length of time I can sustain it.

Another benefit I have encountered is that Tai Chi has become a way to move the energy through the body. This is especially helpful after teaching a long 2-hour plus class. In those long class sessions, the energy pools in the large muscles of the legs. When I take the time to go through my Tai Chi form after classes, the energy can move throughout the body and it becomes easier to release.

Once I complete my Tai Chi for the day, I am instilled with a sense of peace that I truly cannot explain in words, it is simply so peaceful that I do not even want to talk for a while afterwards.

I am sure the benefits will continue to grow the more I work at mastering the concepts of the chi projection as well as the intricacies of the form itself. I am so glad to have found an exercise method that not only provides physical benefits, but so many energetic benefits as well.