I had to laugh. This is what I have been offering here for years calling it Natural Communion....
I had to laugh. This is what I have been offering here for years calling it Natural Communion. Now I know it is Shinrin Yoku: The Art of Forest Bathing….. Forest Medicine. The Japanese have the medical studies and results to help us understand its full benefits. It is hard for us to take time out when we think it is frivolous but here it is. The best thing to do for yourself and the planet. Discover to the true healing potentials of nature emersion. Read more about it at this great website and then if you are in the Mid-Atlantic come and visit the Earthwalk Retreat!
There are many among us that already deeply value such experiences and seek them out. As you find ways to bring forest bathing into your life, you will discover for yourselves the profound well being effects this simple practice can have.
If you are new but the idea inspires you or calls you in some way, I offer sessions to help you learn the art of forest bathing. While anyone can do it, there are some simple techniques that help us become more receptive to the benefits. I offer various ways for you to deepen your practice of Forest Bathing.
The more you can lose your mind and come to your senses, the more refreshing your Forest Bath will be. What the Japanese call Forest Bathing, I have called the art of Natural Communion. The title doesn’t matter, and Forest Bathing is a great name, because it literally feels like a bath or submersion into the energies and life force of the forest. It is an energy bath which deeply cleanses and expands the energy field while activating the relaxation response. The more you can get present to your sensory experience, the more your parasympathetic relaxation response will kick in.
There is something very special about the wordless realm of the more than human world. When forest bathing is looked to for health and balance in life, people will also discover a great realm of pleasure and joy that we are deprived of and in a sense mal-nourished. We evolved out of the natural realm and it seems natural that there is something in the phenomenological experience that we need for a rich and balanced life, but we don’t even know it because we have been without it for so long. Richard Louve calls it a Nature Deficit Disorder and this mysterious ingredient in nature that enhances our well-being he has dubbed Vitamin N.
Here is a quote from David Abrams Spell of the Sensuous where he is describing his experience of coming back into our culture after having lived in very deep connection with the natural world and the sentience of nature for a whole year.
“As the expressive and sentient landscape slowly faded behind my more exclusively human concerns, threatening to become little more than an illusion or fantasy, I began to feel—particularly in my chest and abdomen—as though I were being cut off from vital sources of nourishment. I was indeed re-acclimating to my own culture, becoming more attuned to its styles of discourse and interaction, yet my bodily senses seemed to be losing their acuteness, becoming less awake to subtle changes and patterns. The thrumming of crickets and even the songs of the local blackbirds, readily faded from my awareness after a few moments, and it was only by an effort of will that I could bring them back into the perceptual field. The flight of sparrows and of dragon flies no longer sustained my focus very long if indeed they gained my attention at all. My skin quit registering the various changes in the breeze and smells seemed to have faded from the world almost entirely….” Pg 25 The Spell of the Sensuous, David Abram Random House February 97
To truly appreciate what he is saying here you have to have a sense of the world that opens up for us when we do connect with the sentient landscape and all its rich sensory expressions. Today’s nature emersion experience or vision quest is best used for this purpose, a journey to reconnect with this lost knowledge.
What our culture needs is not so much a vision of one’s purpose, or guidance for the future, but a vision of the living earth and the sentience of the natural realm. Allowing yourself to just go into the woods for 3 days without any distractions and with the intention to just be present to whatever arises inside or outside of you, can be a Vision Quest of the highest order and of great healing to both ourselves and for the earth.
You can also just remember to get sensory when ever you think about it. Driving your car, brushing your teeth, watching the birds come to your bird feeder. Listen to music is good and playing it is even better. Find a simple drum or rattle or make your own chant and beat a stick on a log so you can ride the streams of energy that flow through you from the forest. Have a fire in your back yard or go on a camping trip. But make sure you spend time just being, and noticing all the sensations that you are enveloped in.
Listen with your whole body and perceive the subtle moods of the day as it rolls by. If you have a place that nature herself has landscaped near by, be it forest or desert, go take a bath in the flood of radiant light energy and waves of sound, the sensory emersion into wind and water and sunlight and moonlight, the more than human world and see for yourself how it feels.
If you want some help deepening into this practice, come to the Earthwalk Retreat for a day Forest Bathing… or plan a vision quest or nature emersion retreat for this coming year.