by Stephanie Wilson
If there ’ s one universal thing that is going to be served to each and every one of us on this marathon journey called life , it ' s challenges . Daily challenges , weekly
challenges , monthly challenges . Regardless of who you are or where you come from , everyone is going to encounter their share of their peaks and valleys . We can choose to quiver and cower in the face of the ups and downs , or we can see them as an opportunity to grow . We can grow through our challenges by practicing and using one of the many tools we are each blessed to come across as we navigate our tenure here on earth .
As a work-from-home mother of three very young and active children , my days are very full and very busy . Day in and day out , I ’ m constantly receiving stimulation and manufacturing instructions . The repeated requests for snacks , the toileting needs , the conflicts over toys are endless . The constant needs of children alone is enough to make even the most serene mother a little bewildered . Add to that , the noise of the TV , the noise of everyone ’ s opinion on social media , the constant chatter of what needs to be done in order to manage a home , and the day-to-day demands of motherhood and work can quickly become overwhelming .
But it doesn ’ t have to be . I ’ m learning that I don ’ t have to navigate my motherhood journey in a state of constant overstimulation and defeat . Sure , the dishes , laundry , groceries , budgets , and cleaning have to be done . Of course , the children , husband and work clients have to be tended to , but also I ’ m finding that it is equally important to stop and smell the proverbial roses . Not simply because roses smell pretty , but as an act of
self-care , and to reset .
It ’ s physically , psychologically and spiritually important to slow down and consider the lovely moments of life . I myself don ’ t have it all figured out , but I did want to share a daily self-care practice that helps me to recenter myself and maintain a positive mental outlook on life . I engage in a simple daily practice called Shinrin Yoku , also known as “ Forest Bathing .” Although everyone within my sphere of influence benefits from my daily forest baths , I practice Shinrin Yoku for my own sanity .
According to National Geographic , “ The term emerged in Japan in the 1980s as a physiological and psychological exercise called shinrin-yoku (“ forest bathing ” or “ taking in the forest atmosphere ”). The purpose was twofold : to offer an eco-antidote to tech-boom burnout , and to inspire residents to reconnect with and protect the country ’ s forests .” Forest bathing has been used in the same way here in the United States and has become a self-care practice for many people , myself included .
Living in the Chihuahuan desert , forest bathing sounds like an absolutely ridiculous and self-indulgent practice . There are no forests in our high desert topography , and then there ’ s the lack of water . Luckily , you don ’ t need water or a forest to take a forest bath . You simply need access to nature and the ability to move yourself forward . Honestly , you don ’ t even need the ability to move yourself forward . You can sit in a quiet space in nature or have someone assist you with your mobility . So long as there are natural spaces around you , forest bathing is accessible to all . Some people opt to go on forest bathing excursions with a guide , I choose to keep it simple and do it myself .
My daily forest bathing practice helps me to reconnect with myself . Sometimes I forest bathe alone , most of the time I do it with my children , and occasionally when my husband is available , he participates too . I start out by announcing my intention of taking a forest bath to myself and whoever is with me . I then take a deep breath in through my nose and out through my mouth . Usually one deep breath is enough , but on 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
12 Cenizo Summer 2022