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The Soul Part 3: Richard Drake

The Soul Part 3: Richard Drake

“In my deepest troubles, I frequently would wrench myself from the persons around me and retire to some secluded part of our noble forests.”

-John James Audubon

The power of seclusion and the forest…today we discuss an aspect of the soul.  Piggybacking off last week’s post of stress in the mind – I have read a few interesting articles on the ability for nature and the forest to significantly decrease our stress response. Specifically, an act referred to as “forest bathing” or “Shinrin-Yoku”(a term coined in 1984 in Japan). This act calls for people to take a slow walk through a forest area that is dense with trees and nature. I will talk a little bit about the benefits to forest bathing as well as some discoveries of my own.
Reading through an article “Your Brain on Nature: Forest Bathing and Reduced Stress” – a few interesting facts and studies are spoken about. One study is mentioned in which 500 participants took to the forest while 500 adults did not. The results showed that those people who took part in the forest bathing had significantly lower stress levels, their blood pressure was lower, and maintained a lower heart rate. These results are simple to understand but also have some serious weight to them. The only difference between the 2 groups was the act of walking through a forest for 3 days during a week.
This study is interesting because of how easily accessible these benefits can be to find. All we must do is go to our local park where the trees are dense and walk through and experience nature for what it is. It would seem to make sense that enveloping yourself in nature with no outside forces would enable us to feel better connected to ourselves and to nature. This
is a stronger connection then we typically would believe in that most people would probably believe they are “outside enough”. However how often do you take for yourself to walk through nature and totally allow yourself to sense your surroundings without the interruptions of material objects.
I know for me personally, I lose sight of how important nature is to me. I can go months without taking a true walk through the woods – one in which I allow myself to be totally present. A method used through forest bathing is one that asks you to recognize each of your senses during a walk through nature. Use your sense of hearing to listen to the different sounds (birds chirping, leaves blowing, chipmunks climbing through the brush), use your sense of sight to take in the different colors of trees and animals, use your sense of smell to breathe the clean fresh air, use your sense of touch to feel the ground, feel the trees and bushes around you. Taking notice of how each sense reacts to the natural forest will allow for clarity and insights that we may have lost during the hustle and bustle of life. Remembering that you are human and that we are part of nature is truly an amazing feeling and realization.
Forest bathing is a technique that has been used for many years in Japanese culture. It
is a method for stress relief and whole living that doesn’t involve taking any pills or ingesting
anything that can have side effects. The next time you feel stressed and overwhelmed – try
taking a walk through the forest. Find a park that has some section of dense woods and truly
allow yourself to feel everything around you. Not only will this help with your emotional health – but taking a walk is a low level of exercise that will help your cardiovascular system! Let’s go
back to our roots.

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