Shinrin Yoko - forest bathing

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The forest has always been a magical escape from the outside world for me.

I first discovered the healing power of the trees, the woods and forests when I was a troubled 15 yr old, grappling with raging adolescent hormones and  feeling like a complete stranger to the world around me. We'd just left the place I called home, a rambling inner city victorian semi where I was born in the front room to somewhere waaaayyyyy out in suburbia.

Behind this land of neatly built houses, manicured gardens and posh accents which felt alien to my eyes which were more used to the landscape of big buildings, the sound of hospital generators and the smell of petrol fumes were The Woods. A huge expanse of the old ancient Sherwood Forest, stretching for miles except for the roads that cut through them.

I can't remember exactly how I first ended up in the Woods or my first encounter. Maybe the lilt of the forest and the hoot of night owls lured me there. Maybe I decided to try a different path and got lost in the huge expanse of green and tangled trees. The important thing is I found my sanctuary.

I was in absolute awe of the trees, the birds, the foxes and all the little flowers that inhabited this place. Of the lichen and moss that had taken over the woodland as their own. The overgrown paths and the little clearings. The leafy mulch that I just wanted to bury myself in. The ever changing landscape and falling leaves. The living mystery that unfolded day after day. The tree trunks with faces who seemed to speak to me 'rest your head against me'.  And I did, frequently. Occasional meanders became daily walks. I loved the feeling of being alone, of being lost, of entering what felt to me like another realm.

The trees gave me solace and comfort beyond what I understood at the age. I was still a troubled teenager, lost. But I was surviving.  I had the shelter of the trees and the night owls and the bluebells, my regular prescription of soul medicine to help me through.

Woodlands and forests still hold an incredible pull for me. A big green barky blanket of comfort, wonder and healing.  If I see a clump of trees, the dark light intuitively calls me in.  Back in my teenage years I had no concept of the healing power of trees and forests. The woodland and all the sentient beings inside were my friends, simple as that. I felt alive amongst them.

Now there is much written about the healing power of forest, woodland and trees.  In Japan it is called 'Shinrin Yoko' or forest bathing. Rightly so. We know intuitively that forests make us feel vibrant, alive, healed.

As I write a sudden breeze sets the leaves in the trees above my head singing softly. Here, in my little garden , I have the trees and a city view, the woods a short walk away, the best of both worlds.

namaste x

***Fellow tree-huggers...tell me more about what the forest means to you below, I'd love to hear...