Living deep in the woods, I have the luxury of spending time with trees.
They are a rich source of inspiration with limitless variations in color, texture, and form.
They also provide delightful hours of entertainment as the breezes dance through the branches and the squirrels perform acrobatics while chattering about the serious business of harvesting hickory nuts.
But there is yet another layer to the beauty of trees that has piqued my interest; the concept of Shinrin-Yoku which means “forest bathing”, or “taking in the forest atmosphere”.
We have always known intuitively that spending time among the trees can bring us peace as well as permission to quiet our thoughts but in the last several decades there have been studies hinting at the science behind the healing effects of combining mindfulness and the simple act of spending time in nature.
In Japan and Korea, a forest bathing trip involves simply visiting a forest for relaxation and recreation while breathing in volatile substances, the essential oils of the woods, a combination that seems to have measurable emotional and physiological benefits. For a bit more information, Will Richter has written beautifully about it here.
With the pace of modern life, our moments in the forest may be few and far between. Perhaps that is why many of us are drawn to adorn ourselves with bits of nature, serving as a daily reminder of the important connection we have with all living things and to acknowledge that moment of peace we feel while humbled in its presence.