The Forest Bathing Guide had invited me to "head into the woods, find a place to lie down and ask, 'what is getting in my way right now, what do I need to shift?'"
Like a good student, I thought I already had the answer; I had recently been carrying out some self-discovery and knew that my most significant challenge at that point was 'people pleasing'- not being able to say no and put my own needs first.
I assumed that while others were having a moment of self-discovery, I would just lay back, surrender to the earth and watch the clouds pass overhead, safe in the understanding that I already knew the answer.
Surrendering, however, presents you with the odd surprise here and there.
As I lay on my back looking up, a small cloud of neon green lacewings appeared overhead. It took me entirely by surprise, and as I observed, they seemed to 'bounce' up and down in the air in unison with my breath. As I breathed out, they rose higher, and as I took a deep breath in, they came closer. I was mesmerised by this and slipped into a deeper awareness and clearer sense of connection, where everything except the lacewings and I seemed to fade into a distant soft focus. Then out of somewhere that science can't explain, I received three words loud and clear:
"YOU ARE ENOUGH"
And then I knew the answer to the question I was asked to explore.
Accepting that 'You are enough' is rooted in the act of 'self-love'. One step removed from 'people pleasing'- the elusive answer I needed to hear, but that was just out of my reach.
Love is one of the three principles of Forest Bathing- its presence in Forest Bathing is based on the universal energy of love- how love permeates through everything. Soil is love as it holds and nourishes the seeds; water is love as it provides life; the sun is love with its outpouring of energy; the air is love as it makes life on this planet possible; all species in the animal and plant kingdom are love and rely on love to sustain themselves and each other, and importantly we to are love.
It is this universal love that connects everything. Nothing is entirely separate from anything else; just like the lacewings bouncing on my breath, we are all connected. Yet, when we consider the mental health and wellbeing crisis, it has disconnection and fragmentation at its very core. It's a crisis of broken communities, fragmented relationships and a disconnection from nature which translates to falling out of love with ourselves when we consider ourselves as nature.
The practise of Forest Bathing invites participants to rebuild loving connections; it offers an opportunity to rekindle their love for themself and the time to realign themselves with their love for life.