Spending some thoughtful quiet time in nature recently, I identified where my heart is the most at peace. It is where i go in my head to find joy. It is where I think of Jesus meeting me regularly. It is not easy to find this particular convergence of nature in Colorado and I search for this combination diligently. A flowing stream of water, surrounded on each bank by evergreens, adjacent to huge boulders and it must be easy to access.
Where do you celebrate nature? What are desires of your heart? Have you expressed those desires to anyone?
We slowly drove back from an overnight trip to the high mountains. Crested Butte, Colorado is renowned for its famed wildflowers. After two days in the mountains, I still had not experienced “forest bathing.” Forest Bathing has nothing to do with nakedness or soap. Japanese coined the term, “shinrin-yoku” or translated to forest bathing. It is becoming a worldwide phenomena studied and researched since the 1980s in Japan, Finland and across many cultures and urban and country dwellers.
The research shows what all of us have intuitively known. Spending time in nature is good for our health. As more and more people migrate to cities, at is imperative that parks, greenways and open spaces are included in city planning. There are many studies of blood pressure readings, stress hormones and heart rates showing an improvement from time spent in nature. There are also studies that confirm that spending time weekly in nature, helps people to experience less anxiety and depression.
I can no longer do long hikes or climbs without a racing heart rate and constant disappointment. This has led me to investigate and learn about ‘forest bathing’. This may be the answer for me. Walking very slowly, I am learning to enjoy nature and recognize the healing properties of natural surroundings
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 English Standard Version
Using my five senses; I sit quietly and listen to wind and bird song, smell tree bark and flowers. touch the ground with my bare feet, feel the leaves on the trees and taste cool water or berries. I use my predominant sense, my eyes to see, really see, the beauty of different shades of green, small bugs, larger animal evidence, and diversity of trees and plants. The quest for experiencing the “desires of my heart” continues with every trip and hike I take.