Rejuvenate with a forest bath

“Shinrin-yoku is lke a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world. And when we are in harmony with the natural world we can begin to heal.” – Dr. Qing Li, “Forest Bathing,” 2018

Here is part of the conifer forest in our New Place in Bandon. Before we bought the property last year, no one had lived here for decades. The smell of the forest reminds me of Christmas trees, only this heavenly fragrance will last because the trees are alive! Some of the trees have worked hard to survive by reaching, reaching, reaching for the sun.

In Sunday’s Mail Tribune column (August 18, 2019), I suggested taking a break during the “dog days” of August in order to rejuvenate the senses by experiencing what Chinese medical doctor and author Qing Li calls a forest bath, or shinrin-yoku.

I recently took a forest bath in the conifer woodlands on our property in Bandon, Oregon, which we named New Place after William Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-upon Avon.

According to Qing Li, the key to unlocking the power of the forest is in the five senses and letting nature enter our beings through our ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands, and feet. Closely observe, touch, smell, taste, and listen to the trees and other plants in the forest. Pay attention to the way our sensory experiences make us feel.

Also, pay attention to nature’s patterns, called fractals, which are all around us but we miss as we hurry through our busy lives. Shinrin-yoku requires us to slow down and be present in the moment – this is not easy!

This is one of the biggest conifer trees on our property. The bark has deep grooves where vines have taken hold.
Invasive ivy has found its way up the tree trunk.
Look closely and you’ll see that four saplings have grown from a single trunk that has extended as far it could go in search of the sun.
Nature’s magnificent patterns, called fractals, are everywhere, if only we take the time to notice them!
Himalayan blackberry bushes are invasive, but the ripe blackberries taste delicious and add another sensory experience to my forest bath.
Bright green moss feels furry on the tree bark.
I call this tree “The Lovers” because two trees have entwined to help each other find the sun.
We’ve cleared out a section of the forest for our home. For now, it’s so relaxing to listen to the birds singing and the wind moving through the branches.
This conifer has grown out of a tree that fell decades ago. It’s amazing to me how these trees have worked together in this neglected forest in order to survive and reproduce!

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