There are so many beautiful landscapes where I live in West Dorset; The rugged coastline and beaches and the rolling green hills under a vast sky are all wild and wonderful. But I find there is something particularly magical about wandering through a woodland. No matter what time of year, there is a secret story being told in the woods.
The trees and their silent strong structures seem to hold a hidden knowledge. The leaves with their colour and patterns invite you to pay attention, to come closer. The smell of damp earth and funghi invokes a memory, from a time long ago, of the hunter gatherer. All while the birds sing, animals scurry, and the wind moves through the spaces, gently tugging the leaves and bending branches; the sound of a natural symphony composed in the trees.
“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees”Henry David Thoreau
When I heard about Shinrin-Yoku, the Japanese practice of “Forest Bathing”, I felt as though I’d finally found a name for what I’ve been doing all these years! The more I read about it, the more I grew excited to understand that there are scientifically proven health benefits to spending time among trees. That by bathing the mind and body in the atmosphere of the forest, engaging all of our senses, you are experiencing a kind of nature therapy.
Proven to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness, free up creativity, boost the immune system and accelerate recovery from illness; taking a walk in the woods is indeed a wonderful way to re-wild yourself and experience a sense of freedom.
Interested in finding out more? This month’s Wild Card features Forest Bathing and includes a Beginners Guide (produced by Forestry England).
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