A shaded forest with dappled light, a warm sunny meadow with grass tickling your feet, a cacophony of frogs, insects and birds in a wetland marsh, a sandy beach with the lapping of water washing up on the shore, these natural landscapes are ideal for nature and forest therapy. Unfortunately, during times of quarantine where we are asked to stay indoors these places are inaccessible. These natural environments immerse your entire being into a meditative state like no other. However, there are simple practices that we can still utilize from nature and forest therapy to glean the benefits from our yards and inside our homes. You are one of the fortunate ones if you have a yard to escape to. Most yards contain all the elements to immerse your senses so you can connect with nature and yourself. If you do not have a yard, use a window, house plants, even fresh vegetable and fruits can be used. You will just need to be a little more creative.
Forest therapy is a slow, mindful walk with the purpose to slow down, open your senses and embrace the feeling of being alive in the present moment. Nature and forest therapy is a practice that assists you on your inner journey. Quarantine has many of us going inward. Quarantine has many of us questioning ourselves, our emotions, our actions, our purpose. Nature and forest therapy not only helps you with this process you may also find that it is a very supportive and nurturing process. So where do we start?
Let’s start by honoring yourself and dedicating the time to do this practice. That means turn off your gadgets. All of them. Even vibrate mode will pull you out of your meditative state. So do yourself a favour and dedicate time for this practice and let the natural world be your way to connect.
Greet the land. This means, look around and see it’s true abundance. Smell the odours, feel the breeze, listen to the stillness or the buzzing of energy. Take it all in. Notice where you are and breathe. Notice your place in this moment. Feel the abundance and the gratitude of all that surrounds you.
Slowly wander around just noticing things that are drawn to your attention. This could be through any of your senses. If you notice a certain colour, a distinguished smell, or something that looks interesting to touch, do what comes naturally to you. If you want to observe from afar or you want to get up close and engage with it, go with what feels right for you. Being in the moment is about listening to what you are wanting to do and doing it.
Find a place for you to sit for Sit Spot. Sit Spot is a practice that is most likely to be the most valuable experience. When done regularly, Sit Spot alone has the potential to transform your life. Find a spot that speaks to you. This spot can be by a tree, a plant, in your lawn chair facing the only nature around you, on your deck, from your window, next to a house plant or any other being. This spot just needs to be a place where you want to go, easily accessible and where you feel comfortable going to and just sitting. Come to this spot daily for 10 to 15 minutes to start. Allow yourself to relax and give yourself permission to do nothing. You may feel inclined to stop short, pull out something to read or write, or do anything to distract yourself. But take the time to just be aware of what is all around you and what is happening inside of you.
If you want to get an extra source of therapeutic body care, touch the earth with your hands and/or feet. Earthing or grounding is when you physically connect with the earth. When grounded, free electrons move freely from the earth to the body reducing free radicals and eliminating any static electrical charge. Grounding reduces and prevents inflammation from occurring in the body. Inflammation may be the main reason for most if not all chronic diseases. So, why not reduce your inflammation in a natural and soothing way.
Nature and forest therapy can occur at any time and any where. If you are really limited to nature then this is where your sense of imagination comes in. Close your eyes and imagine yourself somewhere in nature. Go through the motions of a therapy walk in your mind and sense the feelings within your body.
After your first forest therapy walk you may perhaps notice a similarity of this practice to other practices. What it boils down to is stilling yourself in this moment. Right here, right now. Noticing what is coming up for you. It is what you do with these noticings that will help you in your life. This practice of slowing down and connecting with nature to help you slow down is the first step to finding you and your true path. If you would like more information on nature and forest therapy go to www.naturesndforesttherapy.org.