October in the woods in SW Michigan, just minutes from my Three Oaks home…
Moving from the heated expansiveness of summer, a refreshing and introspective autumnal forest calls. Come walk and linger, enjoy scents and colors, experiencing the restoration and inspiration of the trees, plants, and earth. The shadows are long and the days shorter, heightening our pleasure of the moment. Falling leaves reveal the skeleton of a tree. Scent of decaying leaves is both dank and sweet, a curious embrace.
I imagine most of us woodsy fans are aware of the Forest Bath movement, Shinrin-yuko. (I rambled about Forest Bathing previously in a wintry blog – Winter Forest Bath). In Japan, formal studies are conducted regarding the health benefits of spending time in nature. A recent study explores the immune strengthening abilities of essential oils from trees and plant life. ‘Scuse me while I dab on some Hinoki Oil…
Most beguiling is the personal creativity that awakes in a Forest Bath. If we step into the woods with senses open we begin to feel very deeply. We let the forest in – into us, our psyche – and we experience profound pleasure and the rarified activity, play.
Yeah, it sounds “woo-woo.” Well, it is “woo-woo.” Let’s just lighten up go with it.
Here’s some sensory forest bath games to explore.
Find a scent and breathe it in. Close your eyes. How does it make you feel? Where do you feel it in your body. Open your eyes and follow the scent until you discover another. Repeat.
Pine, I feel in the head, throat, and heart. I walk through the woods tracking pine until I discover a fungal-mushroom scent. This I feel much lower in my body, it is heavy and rich. Something about the mushroom seems mischievous to me… Colors seem brighter after the scent of mushroom.
Let yourself gaze at something until your eyes go in and out of focus. Explore trying not to focus on anything! Find some lovely objects and make a design with them.
I feel connected to my inner child when I do this.
Sit in silence. Close your eyes. What do you hear? Repeat, this time with a smile.
Here’s a favorite. Find a tree. Go ahead and rest your hand on it. Feel. Move your hand away, slowly, and see what you feel now. Ok, umm. Just wow! Next, silently introduce yourself to this tree. “Well, hello there, Tree. I’m Doreen. It’s so nice to be in your company.” See what happens…
Go ahead and revel and twirl! Don’t be perfect! Be wild and wonderful! Be present! Be you in the deep, deep woods of autumn!