As a child, I understood the amazing healing ability of nature. I knew that when I had difficult emotions, I could go outside, sit with the trees, and feel peaceful almost immediately. Often during quiet walks in the woods, I would receive ideas and solutions to problems without effort. Nature helped me to relax and be connected to my inner knowing. Perhaps you have experienced something similar?
I was fortunate to have a family that enjoyed nature. My grandfather and I often took walks in the woods where we delighted in the abundant plants and animals. We loved the sounds of the birds singing, the smell of the forest, the vibrant colors, and the delicious taste of wild berries. As I look back, I realize that my grandfather was a wonderful spiritual teacher who taught me the joy of being connected to nature. He encouraged me to observe my natural surroundings which ultimately helped me to develop my inner senses and awareness. I will always be immensely grateful for our adventures together and the valuable lessons that I learned.
Today, nature is still a source of great joy, comfort, healing, and inspiration for me. Becoming an RN and eventually, an Energy Healing practitioner, introduced me to science that confirmed what I knew intuitively as a child. Nature heals. It heals us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
A few years ago, I learned that doctors in Japan routinely prescribe forest bathing as part of their patient’s healing programs. Forest bathing involves spending time in nature to facilitate relaxation and healing. Now that’s a prescription I can get behind!
Some researched benefits of forest bathing include: improved immunity, stress relief, and decreased cortisol levels, decreased blood pressure and heart rate, relief of anxiety and depression, relaxation, and reduction in symptoms of ADD. Exposure to beneficial essential tree oils increases cells that halt cancer. Any amount of time spent forest bathing is beneficial. Aim for a couple of hours if possible. People who spent 2-3 days in nature had increased immunity for 7-30 days after! There are so many documented benefits of spending time in nature that I encourage all of my clients to do it.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you would like to try forest bathing. The more often you do it, the greater the benefit, so finding a place close to home may be helpful. Find a trail that is easy to walk on, and preferably away from the sounds of traffic, etc. Ideally, there should be places to sit along the path that are comfortable enough to spend some time resting in solitude. The simple practice of sitting is a powerful way to connect with nature and develop awareness. It is beneficial to have access to a natural body of water along the way, where you can safely enjoy the sounds of the water flowing.
Our senses can be a gateway connecting us to the energy of the forest and to our own spirits. Through this connection, much healing takes place. Try this when you arrive. Spend 10 -15 minutes standing in one place and noticing the forest environment. Take some gentle breaths to begin to relax your mind and body. You can close your eyes if that feels comfortable, and begin to tune into your senses. Notice what your skin feels like. Are there any sensations present? Next, take a few moments to notice and enjoy the sounds that are present. Notice what smells and tastes may be present. Can you distinguish them? Give yourself permission to linger. Last, try opening your eyes and noticing if something is present that you did not see before. Notice how you are feeling. What is different?
I invite you to take the opportunity to commune with nature soon. The forests are an amazing gift to us. They are filled with the energy of aliveness, peace, healing, beauty, and so much more. Allow the forest to connect you with the gifts that reside within you, including the ability to heal yourself.
Deborah White, RN MS HNB-BC
Energy Healing Practitioner & Coach