The Healing Power of Trees

environment forest grass leaves
Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Forest Therapy, also known as forest bathing, is an ancient technique practiced by cultures all over the world. In Japan, where it is used as part of their healthcare system, it is known as shinrin-yoku. Forest Therapy, by any name, is all about slowing down and being mindful of your surroundings to the receive the healing magic of the forest.

When practicing Forest Therapy we first create a firm intention to leave our inner chatter behind. By combining mindful breathing with the presence of trees, we tune into our senses to make a deep connection to nature. Not only does this feel amazing but research has shown that time spent forest bathing can lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce production of the stress hormone cortisol and boost the immune system.

Trees naturally give off phytoncides, or wood essential oils, to protect themselves from germs and insects. When inhaled these oils have a beneficial impact on our nervous system. Our forest environments can be viewed as therapeutic landscapes. “Forest air doesn’t just feel fresher and better –  inhaling phytoncides seems to actually improve immune-system function” concluded a study of forest bathing by researchers from Japan’s Chiba University.

Forest bathing can soothe our minds and soothe our bodies – all we need to do is get out there and enjoy it!

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a method for synchronizing body and mind in the present moment. When our body and mind are in sync, we are naturally relaxed, alert, open, and aware.

What does it mean to “synchronize body and mind”? For a moment or two, right now, pay close attention to the feeling of the rising and falling of your belly with each in-breath and out-breath. You will notice that when you pay attention in this way, even after just a few moments, your mind and body start tracking together, and everything in you starts to calm down, relax, and open.

Most of the time, our minds and bodies are not in sync. Our minds are like broken record players, going over the same habitual thoughts again and again. Our bodies are often ignored; sensations of pain and pleasure alike are “run over” by the speed and busyness of our lives. The experience for most of us in any given moment is that we are stuck in our heads, ignoring our bodies, and living one step removed from our immediate situation.

When we slow down and take time to synchronize body and mind, we experience ourselves and the world in a direct, unmediated way, without conceptual filters. It is this direct experience of the fullness, vitality, and splendour of life that is the gift of meditation.