We all often feel lost and overwhelmed by life in this busy modern world and it is easy to at these times to reach for something to fill the void, null the pain, be it food, Tv, drink, drugs, shopping, sex.. But this time why not try heading outside to your nearest park or wood?
Spending time in Nature brings us back to our real place in the world. It helps us regain our sense of belonging. Many of us have forgotten how to do this – how to be in Nature – and that’s where forest bathing walks come in. Like yoga they connect you back into your whole self as a part of nature. Sharing the experience with others in the group offers us a space to be heard, valued and connect with each other. The forest always offers us wisdoms and insight as we walk, sometimes in ways beyond words and at others through our own or other people’s sudden inspiration. Everything is valued, and time is taken to really be, so you come away with a rich dose of love, medicine (from the essential oils released by the trees and plants), improved concentration, creative inspiration and peace.
For most of our time here on this planet we have lived in harmony as part of the natural world. We evolved as part of it. We tended it and it fed us, sheltered us and inspired us. It is only in the last 0.09% of our existence that this has changed to the way we relate to nature today, something separate and often superfluous to our needs. We do not see what we are doing while caught in this matrix of modern technology and commodity. Like nature we are suffering. Did you know that trees release chemicals (phytoncides) that protect them from attack and these same chemicals boost our immune systems and our NK (natural Killer) cells which help us fight attack from cancers and other disease?
There is scientific proof that time in woodland or forest helps balance our blood pressure, lower our cortisol and helps our parasympathetic system come to the fore giving us a break from the seesaw of anxiety, anger and depression. The health benefits of one day in the woods last up to 30 days.
Forest bathing is a practice that can be learnt and then shared with friends and loved ones. Like other practices, such as yoga, tai chi, Pilates there is something freeing in being held in a class or group. You can dive deeper, give it your full attention, learn from each other and feel a communion of spirit.
Speaking of spirit. Forest bathing originated in Japan and it is believed to draw on their culture of reverence for the more than human world. Their temples of Shintoism are groves of ancient trees, special places of natural power much like our own sacred places in Nature honoured by our Celtic ancestors.
The trees are still here, waiting to see us and be seen and valued. So are all the beings of the natural world. We are all made up of the same molecules as rock, water, plants and trees. These molecules are not static, they constantly interchange as we breathe, drink and eliminate waste. We cannot be separate, we are part of all this is.
“Humans have been evolving for more than 2 million years yet have lived relatively insulated from nature for only the last 10,000 years.” E O Wilson, on biophilia
To book a walk contact me or follow this link
This academic year I have taken a place at Schumacher College, Dartington as their artist in semi-residence. Semi as I’m only there part time and not living on campus.
Due to the sudden death of my father in September, I did not get stuck in straight away. Instead an organic raveling is occurring as I gently find my place and purpose within this inspiring and loving community.
I started last week, offering a weekly creative journey on a Thursday afternoon to Students, staff and volunteers. We set out in the sun enjoying the leaves crunching underfoot on a journey around the grounds of the college, discovering parts of the garden unknown to the participants. We found ourselves by the turf Labyrinth and by unanimous agreement took part in a moving ritual, walking inward to the center releasing our fears and blocks and then walking out to chants of our own words of self encouragement and positive affirmation.
This Thursday, if the rain is not too heavy we shall venture deep into north woods.
“I have found participating in Emma’s Creative Journeys to have been a really worthwhile thing to have done. She thoughtfully prepares and leads each journey, but the guiding is gentle and sensitive to the needs of the participants, and there is openness to the spontaneity of what might happen en route. I particularly liked the creation of something personal out of materials from nature gathered on the walk, and the symbolic use of this in ritual elements of the journey later on. The invitation to write and share something of each journey was a nice way to close the experience. I felt more aware, relaxed and connected as a result of taking part. I’d certainly recommend coming along if your interest is sparked – you won’t regret it . Time in nature is always worth it, and Emma has a lovely way of facilitating creativity in that experience.” – Adam Skerrett Schumacher student Myth and ecology 2017/18