Some days it doesn’t take much to restore myself to balance, just a quiet walk amongst the trees. There is medicine in their dappled light. There’s a kind of therapy to the enigmatic tree shadows and soft sunlight dancing together on my skin.
It doesn’t take much to stand beneath their tender creaking branches and to close my eyes while they breathe healing over me. I forget the curative potential of simple things like this when I’m swept up by life’s complex currents, lost in the ever present pattern of busyness or bogged down by expectations, demands and the pressure to survive. But it doesn’t take much to step aside from it all for a moment, to feel the vibrant earth under my feet and let the scents of damp soil and rain soaked trees seep into my pores.
Every day, Mother Earth reminds me that healing doesn’t always have to be hard. It can be as easy as taking the time. It can be as simple as making the space. It can be as effortless as being open, showing up and allowing something beyond myself to pour a restorative balm into my soul. It can be as crazy, yet uncomplicated and peaceful, as walking slowly between ancient trees – standing people, wisdom keepers and great restorers of the burdened heart – and just breathing in the unassuming medicine of their enchanting splays of dappled light.
When you find yourself in a sticky moment, overwhelmed by life’s challenged, would you be willing to go into their presence and rest your heart in their midst? Just for a little while. A small dose of shinrin yoku may be just the thing to guide you back home to the peace of your inner essence.
Last night I fell into a long and deep dreamless sleep. Almost 10 hours long to be exact, which is unusual for me. It was the strangest thing, because it’s not as if I was exhausted or anything. I woke up wondering if my body and soul were recalibrating in some way. Perhaps attuning to a new rhythm of sorts? Who knows where my soul was wandering in my unconsciousness, for I have no recollection thereof.
Yesterday was one of those spectacular summer days. The African sun scorched the earth and the heat hung heavily in the air. There was no rain to speak of, only endless blue skies. So we (my husband and I) went walking in the morning before it got too hot. We walked through fields of overgrown grass with clover, plantain, milkweeds and other wild flowers hidden in their midst and then along the river course, trying to stick to the tree shaded paths.
We stopped a while and sat for a long time on a bench next to one of the ponds, chatting, enjoying the coolness of the shade and just breathing in the tall mature trees besides us. Absorbing the soothing energy of the willows, aspens, pines and white sinkwoods at the water’s edge. There is a Japanese word for this – Shinrin yoku – which means the art of taking in the forest atmosphere or forest breathing. Shinrin yoku suggests that spending time in forests or among trees is a form of therapy, a medicine for the soul. Studies done on Shinrin yoku have credited this activity with numerous health and emotional well-being benefits. And I can see why, because I feel the peaceful healing of trees and forests first hand whenever I spend time walking, sitting and meditating among them.
Something very special touched my heart while we were on our walk. I spotted a family of wild Egyptian geese. Mom, dad and their six little goslings. The sight of them straddling towards the water together – the parents content and alert, the goslings gleaming with a sense of excitement and adventure – just melted my heart. And it gave me hope. Hope that I’ll have my own children to walk these paths with too someday soon. Sometimes, in the face of an uncertain future, that tiny glimmer of hope is all one needs to trust that the blessings will come in due time. Mother Nature always finds a way to offer that hope to us. I love that about the her. I am grateful for the small ways that the Earth heals and renews me over and over again.