You may have seen articles in The New York Times, National Geographic and NPR over the past few years that highlight the practice of forest bathing. This concept, initially popularized in Japan in the 1990s, and called Shinrin-yoko, has been the subject of research which affirms the physiological and psychological benefits of this ritual. Specifically, the findings communicate the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, systolic blood pressure reduction, boosted immunity and mood, as well as the reduction of stress.
When we stop to reflect on these benefits, as yogis and spiritual beings, the results are not only unsurprising, but also naturally poetic. The life, the enormity of what exists beyond the confluence of our personal lives, beyond the computer screens and day to day demands, probably registers as a shock to the system in 2021. The forest means back to basics, back to our roots… it provides a quite literal grounding but also, when we tune in, peace-filled reminders which normalize our own humanity.
The stages of life that we can observe in the forest, embody and mirror and reflect our own cyclical progression. The forest can seem still, it can be quiet, but it can simultaneously be lively with an abundance of birds and bees, squirrels and chipmunks, plants blooming, sunshine streaming through the tree tops and even dead leaves crunching underfoot. Seasons change, plants and animals miraculously adapt and develop and learn to thrive, colors can be vibrant or fading to the naked eye, but always have the potential and the promise to return, and the layers… the forest layers from the very lowest, underfoot, to the tip tops of the trees, reveal that this existence is a building, is an admission, is an ode, to the intertwined complexities that make us whole… all of this, the true artistry of it all, encapsulated and condensed, all in some of the universe’s finest handiwork.
This is why the forest can feel like a returning, why it can feel like home.
One of the most beautiful realizations we can have, is that, by doing the work, we can feel like this, like we are at home, within our own hearts and within our own bodies. We can fall in love with ourselves, with our cyclical nature, with our sacred stories, with our perfectly imperfect selves, and all of this opens the door to peace, to truth and to an abundance of love. In order to heal, we must acknowledge the changing of seasons, approach both the fading and the vibrant with grace and allow the promise of what was, what is and what will be to echo in our souls.
As we heal, grow, embrace parallel consistencies and inconsistencies of life, as we discover that life is not waiting to be healed, that it does not begin when we have it all figured out, but that it is now, it IS the figuring out, we can, like the forest, show our colors, bloom our plants, and accept when it is time for them to return to the earth, we can trust the timing, the cycle, we can show all of our truth…this sharing, this opening, this welcoming in, like the forest, is all that is needed for each of us to rise to our sacred goddess roles, to awaken our contribution to our collective healing.
Allow the forest and a sense of community to inspire the continuation of your healing. Consider joining us, as we do this beautiful work and live this beautiful life, by coming together for the Earth Medicine Magic Retreat, August 19-22, 2021, among the Redwoods of California.
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