days when my sensory system has been stretched to capacity , I opt for three slow , deep breaths .
Then , putting one foot in front of the other , I ’ m off . It doesn ’ t matter if I ’ m in the wilds of Terlingua , the Gage Gardens in Marathon or on a greenway back home in New York City , my practice is the same . I verbalize my intention , take a few deep breaths , put one foot in front of the other , and then I start to walk .
So , what ’ s the difference between taking a walk and taking a forest bath ? For me the difference lies within the intention behind the act . I ’ m intentionally walking with nature on my forest baths . I walk slowly , I breathe slowly , I talk slowly . I take note of the gentle rise and fall of my chest , the crunch of the soles of my shoes as they connect with the earth . I savor the warmth of the sun on my skin . I smile as the wind brushes past my cheeks and then goes on to rustle the orange-tipped fronds of the ocotillo . I softly gaze at the brilliant blue of the sky . I note the weight of the clouds . I listen out for the songs of the birds . I touch the delicate leaves of the mesquite tree . I inhale the scent of wildflowers . I breathe . I literally bathe myself in the experience of being out in nature .
For the past year , Shinrin Yoku has been an integral part of my healing and motherhood journey . After a few minutes engaged in the practice , I can feel my shoulders lower , my jaw relax and my brain activity slow to a steady idle . Once I feel a smile unconsciously spread across my face , I know that the forest bath ’ s healing properties have begun to take effect . At that point , I ’ m in the zone and I try to stay present in the moment for as long as possible . On particularly indulgent days , I ’ m able to forest bathe solo for an hour , though most often , I strive to forest bathe for 10 - 15 minutes . After each session , long or short , I always feel refreshed and renewed .
The effects of forest bathing have been widely studied over the past 40 years . Forest bathing has been proven to lower perceived stress levels , decrease heart rate and blood pressure , increase feelings of happiness , free up creativity , boost the immune system and accelerate recovery from illness . It ' s a practice that consciously or unconsciously each and every one of our ancestors likely participated in . I love forest bathing and I ’ m grateful to be able to pass down this simple practice to my children . I pray that they will use Forest Bathing or Shinrin Yoku as a gentle , yet powerful coping strategy for navigating the ups and downs of life .
If my experience with Shinrin Yoku resonates with you , give it a try . You can start out like I did ; watch YouTube videos , read articles , and then go out and simply do it . We can all use some additional time in nature to stop and observe what beauty surrounds us . We could all use some time and space to heal . Forest bathing is wonderful . It could be one of the best , most healing “ baths ” you ’ ve ever taken . �
10 Big Bend Real Estate Guide • September 2022