Forest Bathing,Nature Cleansing and the Efficacy of Meditation in Nature or How the Forest heals me.
In my personal enrichment, I have taken to a practice of meditation. I suffer from bouts of anxiety and depression and although I struggle with conventional treatments, there is one archetype of a place that has provided a safe haven to reset my brainwaves and relax into the moment (even though the next anxiety episode may be around the corner): Natural Landscapes. In any place where there is open space with life thriving this is a place to connect. Not all open spaces are equal, but each one is worthy. My go to space since 2018 since I moved to Ohio in North America has been the remnants of the majestic forests that once covered but was cleared away for subsistence then industrial agriculture. I enjoy what remains and as I am constantly reminded, sometimes the most intimate nature is closest to home or on a far away island.
I want to share a recent experience that I had as I set my intention to use sound meditation, primarily the sound of my voice as described by the late Dr. Mitchell Gaynor. Dr. Gaynor was an oncologist that treated many patients with this method of sound meditation based on the use of Tibetan Singing Bowls to create resonant sounds that fill a space. It is somewhat embarrassing if there are others around, but it’s important to commit! I started to focus on my breathing and inflate my torso with air and on each exhale, the practice is to find a vowel sound that comes most naturally (a strong groan is a preference for me) and repeat that sound a few times. The imagery that goes along with this works well, imagine you are incorporating the element of wind into your body as you focus on your breathe. Try to quiet the mind and focus on some element of the landscape, if there are thoughts, let them come and go. If there is water nearby, take advantage of this. Use the imagery of the flow of water to imagine moving your body’s energy. There may be awkward beginnings, but you must persevere! As I made my way through the forest I started to feel different frequencies as I made my way through the natural space.
As I continued the meditation and increased the resonance coming from my vocal chords, my meditative state became more complex and subtleties of the forest began to become accentuated. I began to experience my senses of the place that I was walking and felt energy moving through me with every footstep. One practice that I enjoy is to connect with an organism like a tree while trying to feel its frequency with the voice. I place both hands on the trunk and lean my weight into the sturdy tree. This in turn helps me to feel grounded and more connected. Thoughts come and go and each one leaves a bit of manifested reality. Any time there is an overwhelmed sense, I always come back to regulated breathe. Focus on the breathe.
Moving through the forest in this meditative state brings about a heightened awareness of the parts that make up the whole of the forest. The way each tree holds space with its roots holding down the soil or how a patch of water has flowed to make a small pool with an explosion of life surrounding or how a raptor soars overhead with a much keener eye. As you pass through each encounter with the surrounding forest each step becomes lighter and more intentional. Your gait becomes a balanced glide as you find roots and stones to support your weight. Put a hand on a tree to support lateral weight and feel its connection to the Earth.
Sense the length of time, of everything that this space has witnessed. Sense the vigorous cycles of life in these natural systems: birth, growth, death, decay and birth. They are inherent and represent either an apathetic science of the way things are and the precise description of as they should be or as a constant vibrational dance with the forces of creation ever dynamic and never the same. Being in the midst of such life is inspiring and can easily reset the mind, reminding us of the important and vital aspects of our lives. Our closest relationships and our family roots. Our dearest traditions and culinary kitchens. Our place among the generations.
How can all of this come about from a walk in the woods? The skeptic asks. The simple answer is I don’t know, it’s where the magic resides. Walking through a landscape could be a deep evolutionary trait of being a person. It could be a reconnecting and a remembering of our true place in the world. Residing in place and time in many respects is not our choice. Every morning we wake up to the circumstance of the collection of our choices, but the waking part is beyond our control. Placing ourselves in nature and using different methods that we feel comfortable with to connect is the goal.
Natural Landscapes offer a canvas on which we can define or redefine ourselves. Feel the Forest. Feel the earth, fire, wind and water. Inspire and be inspired in your unique existence.
Forest Shefa offers in partnership with Tonic True Nature a donation requested meditation walk in the riparian landscape of One Earth Collaborative in energetically active Oregonia, Ohio. I invite you to practice these techniques alone or with others and I invite you to join me on a Meditation walk to newly discover the forest and to take a peek inside.
For reservations please visit: www.naturecleanse.eventbrite.com
Encounter Nature Everyday.