The other day for the first time this year we went for a walk in the park just at the edge of town.
There are hiking trails through woods and meadows and there's a disc golf course throughout. We just like to go to walk with the dogs, a nearby escape into nature.
It was glorious. So peaceful and fragrant. The scent of pine needles and moss. Of wild honeysuckle. The weather was just about perfect, skies so blue and the air warm.
Every time we go I wonder why we don't go more often. It feels so good for my spirit.
I recently read a fascinating article on the Pith and Vigor blog about something called "Shinrin-Yoku" or forest bathing (not a literal bath, but "showering, taking in -- with all of our senses", immersion). In the article Dr. Roxanne Daleo, who works with anxious and ill children, treating them in part in the woods behind her home, explains a scientific explanation for why spending time beneath the trees is so good for you.
Have you ever felt it, too? It's like meditation. Slowing down. Being present. A sense of inner peace. The way you are filled up with energy and joy, with well-being. It's renewal of spirit and mind that doesn't happen quite the same way anywhere else.
It makes sense. And it's a good reason to escape to the wild more often. Pay attention to all your senses. The scents of leaves and pine needles. The songs of birds. Discover the wildflowers blooming everywhere. The wild geraniums and mayapples*.
Every day I struggle with slowing down, with being present, but when in the woods, immersed in nature, that struggle falls away.
If you get a chance, bathe in a forest this weekend and see what joys you can discover.
*I can never look at a mayapple the same way since I learned that one of Matthias' chemotherapy drugs was derived from it. The fact that such a common, wild plant is the source of powerful medicine is amazing to me. So many drugs come from plants and I can't help but wonder how many undiscovered treatments an cures are growing out there somewhere.