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Washington, ME
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Filtering by Tag: forest

Forest Bathing

Jlynn Frazier

Shinrin yoku means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” Developed in Japan in the 1980s, Shinrin-yoku has become a key for the study and practice of preventative health care and healing. 

The embodied experience of Shinrin yoku has slowly become a fitness trend here in the United States and is growing (as is the research on the importance of spending time outside in nature). Articles have suggested it is gaining momentum (think yoga 30 years ago) and can be a healing process that can save your life.

Each and every moment that I am outside forest bathing has been powerful. I find myself returning to my day's work with more clarity and purpose. I have often talked about these times as woods wanders where my intention is to be mindful in motion. To see where the light accentuates the landscape. To hear the scurrying of squirrels preparing for winter. To smell the mix of decomposing leaves and the sweetness of the evergreens.  To feel the cold autumn breeze on my face. (The blog Mind, Body, Green shares more on the why and how of forest bathing). 

Forest bathing is about going slowly and spending long periods of time being mindful and present. My approach is a bit modified as I tend to walk farther than some of the research I read far suggests (one article I read mentioned not going more than a quarter mile in a 2-4 hour time period! WOW!). 

Like most anything, I take what works and modify it to fit me best. My version of taking in the forest atmosphere includes going slowly and paying attention to all of my senses. It also includes carrying my camera and a small notepad and pen. I leave the phone at home. This is an unplugged experience. Sometimes I just walk. But often times I want to write down a quick observation or capture something that I am seeing or feeling. Moments that were possible by being mindful in motion—slow motion. 

I have put together a brief photographic experience for you to get a sense of what bathing in the forest might be like as I have experienced it through my woods wanderings (and perhaps you might give Shinrin-yoku a try).  


Advice from a Tree on Working Together

Jlynn Frazier

Each wander in the woods is a day of discovery. Each time I stand with the trees of the forest I am off on another magical adventure. Each moment provides me with the chance to see wonders great and small unfolding.

The trees talk and communicate in ways that I am just beginning to understand. They communicate to their tree families and they talk to us. I have so much to learn (I think we all do). Through my growing love for trees, I find I am bringing a greater awareness to each moment of my woods wanders. I get to see and experience the ways that the trees hold so much history and have so much to share about what it means to build strong communities that survive for hundreds and thousands of years.  

I have been spending a lot of time outside and try to share daily words and images of the magic of it all. I can never bring the wonders of the forest to you in its entirety, but I find so much joy in trying to give you glimpses into the world I experience. And to share nuggets of what I am learning along the way. 

Just this week, I joined Peter Wohlleben author of "The Hidden Life of Trees" (published September 2016) on a magical journey. In the first chapter of the book, I was completely immersed by this wisdom from the trees:  

But why are trees such social beings? Why do they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? The reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together. A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But, together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old.
— Peter Wohlleben author of "The Hidden Life of Trees"

WOW! I immediately started thinking about our strained communities this week. At least that is what I see on the limited news clips I consume, the signs popping up on front lawns as I run through my small town, and the constant barrage of social battles. 

There must be something about getting a little older that makes me pause more and listen. I am ebbing and flowing between seeing the beauty of the day, the stark reality of the shit going on in the world, and the lingering hope of what could be. Time spent away from it all being more connected to myself and the natural world provides a space for my lingering hope. 

As Wohlleben shares in his book, a tree is not a forest. A thriving forest is created and maintained when each tree takes care of itself, and their tree family, and the forest community. Let's think about this and substitute with the word people: A person is not a community. A thriving community is created and maintained when each person takes care of themselves, their families, and the people of their community.