I hadn’t heard of Forest Bathing before. Someone recently described it to me and I thought it was something I would like to try. It’s not hiking. It’s not about exercise. You don’t have to be adventurous to do it. You only need immerse yourself in a setting surrounded by nature and tap in to your senses. Listen closely. Touch what’s around you. Smell the aromas. Forage and taste wild edibles. Observe with purpose. Read here to learn more about its origin and benefits. https://www.mamanatural.com/forest-bathing/
I didn’t plan my recent inaugural forest bathing experience. I just went for a bike ride on a beautiful summer day. One thing that exhilarates me is swimming outdoors. I live in a climate where our summers are quite short. There is a 4-6 week window when the water in our local ponds is warm enough for me to willingly get in. This summer has been uncharacteristically hot and I have made plunging into local fresh water ponds a part of my regular activity. This day was no exception. I was biking on a local trail that meanders through trees around several ponds. I purposely wore quick dry clothing so I could stop for a swim and carry on with my ride, the wet clothes keeping me cool. There is a beach along on one these ponds that is crowded on nice days. That’s not for me. I like to find access that’s more private. On this particular day, I found a section that was shallow for about 5 feet, then dropped off. Perfect! Treading water, my head at water level, looking across the vast pond, no one else in sight, a few lily pads nearby. Bliss. I like to stretch my arms out ahead of me and just barely let my fingers surface. I don’t know why I love that so much, but I do. After my swim, I hopped back on bike and continued with my ride. Soon after, I stopped for lunch on a wooden bench next to a little creek. I laid on the bench and soaked up the sun, still at this point, not intentionally forest bathing. That didn’t start until I sat on a rock next to the creek, my wet body leaving its mark on the wood.
The birds drew me there. I had spotted them from the bench and wanted to get closer. I have developed an interest in identifying birds over the past couple of years and wondered if these were pine siskins. They were small enough, but didn’t have the characteristic yellow marks of the siskins I am familiar with. Maybe the females don’t have the yellow? Maybe this was a different variety of siskins? These were some of the questions running through my mind when I remembered someone telling me about forest bathing. I realized I was perfectly positioned to give it a go! From the little bit I knew about it, I started to purposefully observe what was around me. Right away, directly to my left, just a few inches from my hand, I saw this brilliant blue tiny dragonfly that measured no more than 3-4 centimetre in length.
I would have missed it altogether had I not decided to look. After enjoying it for several minutes, I excitedly wondered what might be to my right. There I spotted a very interesting oxidized rock.
As I looked longer and closer, the different hues of its monochromatic face gave me an idea. I had just seen a vibrant blue, here before me was a rusty orange. I wondered if I could find all the colours of the rainbow! A flick of my head back to the left, just inches from where the dragonfly had been, I found yellow!
I turned around to find a garden that had no shortage of red blooms.
And plenty of indigo and violet too!
I was having so much fun forest bathing! The colours were popping out all around me. ROYGBIV, I thought. Red. I had red. Orange. The rock. Yellow. Centre of the daisy. Green. I hadn’t taken a picture of green. I was on a trail in the forest surrounded by luscious greens. Have you ever stopped to closely identify the greens in a forest? If not, I highly recommend it! Which one to pick? I chose the one that was unshaded, gleaming in the sunlight.
Alive. The forest was alive! In that moment, I sure as heck was too. I felt vibration. I was a part of something larger than I could describe. Sure, I love to spend time outside and always feel great after exercising. I have always felt a connection to nature. However, this experience just opened my heart and mind even more to the joy, mysteries, strength, beauty, and resilience that surrounds us. And when we really tap into it, bathe in it, we realize we possess all those qualities too.
The rest of my ride home was euphoric. The wind felt softer on my face, the air was lighter. The sun, warmer. I felt supported, recognized, nurtured. I found a rainbow! Right there by the creek. It was always there, every other time I passed by. But on this day I found it.
Thank you, Dianne, for introducing me to forest bathing. I will do it again.