Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Forest bathing: the art of shinrin yoku

Forest bathing is a way to submerge yourself into nature and observe all the natural wonders that abound in a forest or woodland-like setting.

When early man came out of the forest to explore his new boundaries, he left the safety of the woodlands that sheltered him, gave him a food supply and a sense of connection to the wonders of his world.

Today, we also can find solace, peace, harmony, and a sense of connection to the preciousness of nature's trees and the woodlands.

Perhaps as a child, you had the privilege of camping in one of our nation's grand parks like Yosemite, Big Sur, Lake Arrowhead, or even in a pup tent under a tree in your backyard on a summer's night.

Maybe, it was a summer camp or an outing to your local park that piqued your senses that became embedded into your soul within the world of trees?

In Japan, "Forest Bathing" is a way to practice this process of relaxation known as Shinrin Yuko. Corporations in the Orient find it is beneficial to have their employees spend some quality time out in the woods and feel that they come away energized and have more productive work ethics going back to their jobs.

The simple act of being calm and quiet among the trees, and observing nature around you while breathing deeply, can help both adults and children destress and holistically boost their health and well-being.

Keep it simple and immerse yourself amongst the trees to savor all that nature has to offer, for it's accessible to one and all and it is free.

Here in the southland, we have such a wide selection of forests to enjoy like those in Julian, Idlywild, Palomar Mountain and our own local Live Oak Park.

Don't forget our local preserves like Los Jilqueros and the Dinwiddie Preserve, where I planted all the oaks there with a group of 4-H kids some 25 years ago.

If you travel a bit north of Fallbrook to the Santa Rosa Plateau, you will experience oaks that are hundreds of years old as you meander on the trail paths of this classic cattle rancho from yesteryear.

Here are some ways to begin your Forest Bathing experience

· Go into the woods by yourself, for starters, and explore the magic of trees.

· Take no electronic devices of any type so you can savor the total experience.

· Wear comfortable clothing and keep an open mind to observe the entire surroundings and rest your thoughts to be calm and peaceful.

· Try and empty your mind from your daily routines and open your spirit.

· Find a quiet place where you can be by yourself and not be disturbed.

· Look at the trees surrounding you and think about them as friends, and living organisms just like you and me, for we are all connected in the great picture of life.

· Look at the tree trunks and branches that support the architecture of trees.

· Feel the softness of the tree's leaves below your feet as you walkabout.

· Look up through the canopy of a tree with patches of blue skies above and clouds whisking by as they fade off into the horizon.

· If it is a coniferous forest or deciduous woodland of trees, remember trees are part of the bones of the planet, giving us so much in our daily lives.

· Think how a forest came to be and wonder what stories and tales the trees can tell us as living historians for our planet over the millennia.

· Look at the leaves in the tree's canopy above you and how they are producing food for the tree's survival through the process of photosynthesis.

· Listen carefully to the sounds within the forest, for it could be the tap-tap-tap of a woodpecker, working on stashing acorns for a future food supply, or the screeching of a midday hawk circling high above, or maybe the honking of geese flying south to winter over just below the border.

· All of your senses can be stimulated, providing you are open, receptive, and allow entry of this spiritual happening called forest bathing.

· Please keep your eyes open, for the colors of nature are soothing by themselves. Studies have shown that people relax best while seeing greens and blues.

· You might have a great experience when a hummingbird flutters by with her tiny wings close to you, alerting you that you are too close to her nest of youngsters. So be sensitive to the call of the wild around you and respect it.

· Take long breaths deep into your abdomen, extending the exhalation of the air twice the length of the inhalation, which can send a message to your brain to relax.

· Inhale the aromas surrounding you, for this, is also a form of aromatherapy that nature provides and is a gift for all to enjoy if you are willing to receive.

· You must enter a forest to appreciate these tiny jewels that it is giving you, and it can bring about a new horizon to your lifestyle as you travel forward. Or maybe it's a stand of trees in your own backyard to enjoy.

· Stop, think, and listen to nature calling out among the trees, for it is telling us that we must have a kinder hand and respect for the global forests, for once they are gone, it will never be the same.

· We have come from the earth, and one day down the road, we shall all return to the earth, so let us all do what we can to preserve, protect and practice wholesome good earth stewardship which can give you some new insight into your health and daily life.

· Gardening and horticultural therapy are being practiced more and more.

· Teach your children the wonders of the natural world early on, for it's okay to hug a tree, get dirty while playing in the soil, climb a tree, or play hide and seek in nature.

· Forest bathing is healthy for all ages, and it's so easy to practice, providing you unzip yourself from daily stress and find new ways to feed your soul, and are willing to concentrate and learn what trees can give us.

· Who knows what lies beyond, for we are all interconnected as living species, and this new adaptation to your life might be a healthy adventure for you and your family to practice.

· An excellent book to read is Vitamin N, by Richard Louv, explaining some essential guidelines to a nature-rich life to practice.

· Our entire world is changing daily, so we must rekindle our connection to mother nature and be better stewards, for its one planet, with beauty all around us every day. So be kind to her and enjoy the bounty that nature gives us, for it is truly a ride of a lifetime.

May the forests be with you and yours.

Roger Boddaert – Maker of Natural Gardens and the Tree Man of Fallbrook – can be reached to experience forest bathing at 760-728-4297.


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