“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
—John Muir, Our National Parks
Summer officially began just a few days ago, and I’ve been honoring the season with seaside walks and hours spent soaking up the sunshine while tending to my garden.
I’m blessed to live in Southern California where the weather allows me to spend time outdoors nearly every day that I’m not on the road. Spending time in nature isn’t just good for the soul – it’s good for your health.
A study in Japan, of “forest therapy” is based on the theory that nature is where humans feel most comfortable. Physical and mental benefits can be achieved by synchronizing our rhythms with the rhythms of nature. The study has proven that walks among the trees result in significantly lower levels of the stress hormone Cortisol, a 1.4 percent decrease in blood pressure, and a lower, steadier heart rate. Not surprisingly, participants also report overall better moods and lower anxiety after time spent in the forest.
I can personally attest to the fact that the more time I spend outdoors, the better I feel – physically, emotionally and spiritually. If you’re feeling stressed, depleted or out of sorts, allow nature to work it’s healing magic! Wherever you live and however busy your schedule make it a priority to get out of the house and spend some time enjoying the warm weather and beauty of the great outdoors.
The idea of shinrin-yoku, inspired by ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices, is to let nature enter your body through all five senses, Bring all of your senses into play and try out a few of these ideas:
1) Read, write or study outdoors:
No matter how long your to-do list is, you can get a healing dose of sunshine simply by moving an indoor activity outdoors. While outside you can spend some time sipping tea, listening to the birds or just jump right into your writing, reading or studying. Have a hard time disciplining yourself to journal, meditate or read every day? Create a practical outdoor summer ritual that you can look forward to and stick to it!
2) Broaden your horizons by learning something new:
Enjoy nature by learning something new about the birds in your area or the stars in the sky – pick up a guidebook, or download a smart phone app to help you identify birds, or stars and constellations. You can stay in your own backyard, or go off on a weekend excursion to spot some new ones. Either way, bird watching and stargazing will give you a whole new reason to be outside!
3) Enjoy the night:
Take a long walk in the moonlight – look at the stars and listen to the sounds of the night – the moonlight will cast a new light on everything. You don’t have to be in a rural or suburban area to enjoy nature – urban areas offer the opportunity to head outside and enjoy the night air and the stars too! .
4) Switch your healing bath for a dip in the ocean:
I’m a big fan of Epson salt baths – at home and on the road. Sprinkling a cup or two of Epson sales, along with some essential oils, is a wonderful way to relax while you cleanse and normalize your energy field. In the summer, a dip in the salty ocean waves has the same effect – and it’s enhanced by the stress busting, energizing qualities of the negative ions in the sea air.
5) Change your environment for a weekend or longer:
A change in your environment can restore your spirits and help you get un-blocked and inspired. As much as I love San Diego, a visit to the desert or a tropical cruise really gets my creativity flowing. When you’re planning a vacation or weekend retreat, consider something unfamiliar. If you live in the city, plan a weekend in the redwood forests. If you’re from the Midwest, book a cruise or a beach vacation. While you’re there be sure to soak up as much healing time in nature as possible!
If you’re taking my Spiritual Healing Certification, or if feeling stressed or suffering from dis-ease of the mind, body or spirit I urge you to try a couple of these ideas. Share your comments on my Facebook page and let me know your favorite way of refreshing and recharging yourself, naturally!