Dip into nature like a bath with all your senses
When I was a little girl and lived in Siberia with its enormous wilderness, I thought that the forest was a part of my house.
It was always kind and friendly to me, often hiding me under its trees from a heavy rain or protecting me with branches from the midday sun.
In the autumn, the forest delighted me with brightly coloured leaves, which I collected with full arms, and then threw high up in the crisp air.
I stood looking at the piercingly blue sky, and laughed happily within this multicoloured waterfall, breathing in the pungent smell.
The forest presented me with unexpected surprises; I gathered tart wild berries cast like bright beads among the fallen pine needles.
I remember smiling as I looked at a red and black ladybug which landed gently on my arm and rested before it flew away.
The forest was for me a familiar and safe place; I knew the names of all the trees and flowers.
I loved to collect mushrooms, confidently distinguishing the edible from the poisonous ones.
I knelt for hours watching a huge anthill set on the sunny forest edge where an army of industrious ants carried their tiny luggage along complex and elaborately constructed paths.
I built secret huts from dry branches with my friends far in the forest, and then tried to find them again by following our maps.
The forest was always my faithful friend, a part of me and my life and I did not even imagine how any childhood could be different.
A year ago, I learnt that the forest cannot only be my friend, but also an extraordinary and exceptional healer.
I started practising the techniques of shinrin-yoku which translates from Japanese as forest bathing.
Its premise is taking the time to unwind, connect and immerse yourself in nature to improve health, mood and wellbeing. It originated in Japan in the early 1980s as a form of wellness treatment, and has become so popular there are now more than 60 forest therapy camps. Its basis is a simple, yet powerful exercise that anyone can do.
How to do it? Go to a beautiful place, perhaps a path in one of Bermuda’s nature preserves, or the Railway Trail or South Shore.
If you are with a partner or friend, agree not to speak. Mute your phones.
This is an exercise in mindfulness, so prepare yourself.
Smile and relax before you walk. Breathe deeply for a few moments.
Quiet the voice in your head and forget about all your worries and problems.
Listen to the birds singing and the breeze rustling the trees. Admire the blue sky and perfect white clouds.
Dip your fingers into the ocean or feel the sand with your toes. Smell the sea air, touch a flower.
Picture yourself dipping into nature like a bath with all your body, mind and senses.
Then simply walk, not thinking but alert, taking notice of the beauty in nature that surrounds you.
It has been scientifically observed that even a 30-minute meditative walk in nature will help relieve stress, boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, accelerate recovery from surgery or illness, increase your energy level and improve your sleep and mood.
If you’d like to try it, I offer nature bathing walks for women on weekends.
I am also available for private consultations as a life coach and personal wellness instructor. Call 518-1633 or e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at www.ninalondon.com