Put your hand up if you've ever visited a forest and failed to greet it when you arrived or thank it when you left. Yes, that's right, offer acknowledgement to the trees.
I imagine quite a few hands are going up!
I have to put my hand up and admit it. I've done it too, not once or twice either, lots and lots of times, all in the pursuit of better health and wellbeing; my excuse is that I honestly thought it was helping.
I had read all the books and believed that if I had a connection with nature, I would be healthier and make better environmental choices.
However, I never stopped to say hi, and I never paused to say goodbye and thank you to the forest!
I got confused between 'contact' and 'connection'.
Going into nature to exercise, walk the dog, catch up with friends on your phone, listen to music or find a nice space in the sun to check your Twitter account will have some benefits: you're outside breathing in the fresh air, the sun is on your face so you're getting your dose of vitamin D and your heart rate is likely to be elevated too meaning your cardiovascular system is working.
Having contact with nature is good for us- but developing a connection with nature is where each of us and the planet can really benefit.
Many people have been promoting a 'contact' relationship with nature for too long and with the best intentions. One that considers nature as 'out there', as a place to 'use' or even 'conquer'. This thinking perpetuates the same attitude that has led to the ecological crisis. Dare I say that the idea that we can 'save nature' is just another strand of this very problem!
Imagine you meet somebody new and begin to build your friendship around everything you can get from that person. They make you feel great when you meet up, but you don't acknowledge them. Instead, you share their company and then leave without saying goodbye. They are always available whenever you want to spend time with them, but you can go weeks without visiting them. They always bring you food and beautiful things to see, but you ignore them or go out and take things without asking or giving a simple thank you. The relationship would fall into crisis and soon be over.
Maybe what we are witnessing in regards to the ecological crisis is the human nature relationship falling into crisis because of this same attitude.
With the best intentions, I, too, at times, was guilty of this. That is until I discovered Forest Bathing, and my entire opinion and idea about nature connection changed.
We intentionally slow down and acknowledge the forest during a Forest Bathing guided walk. This is because we consider the forest a living, breathing organism. An intricate web of connections, some we can see, some we can hear, some we can feel and some that will forever be a mystery to us. We go into the forest to 'be' with the trees, insects, fungi, birds, the wind, and the soil. When we enter, we greet the forest, and we give gratitude and thanks when we leave. We don't go to the forest and use it to improve our health and wellbeing; instead, we go to be with the forest, to remember and rebuild our connection, and by doing that, we become healthy and well.
As a species, we spent 10,000 generations as a part of the forest. As each tree is part of the forest and each leaf is a part of the tree, we, too, were a part of the whole forest ecosystem. In the last 100 generations, we have forgotten our place in the forest, but not entirely. Many feel the desire to be with the forest and are searching for a way to rebuild that relationship. Still, with each venture into the forest, we must be sure that we are laying the foundations for a relationship built on connection, not just passing contact.
If you'd like to join a Forest Bathing guided walk or hire Danny to run Forest Bathing for you more details can be found here: www.forestbathingnorthwest.co.uk/schedule