This post may seem so obvious, right? A walk in the woods is so beneficial for so many reasons and any walking that you do is good for you. But here I’ll get a little more specific about why.
You may have heard of forest bathing as a thing and retreat centers are all about it. You might say well I can do this right from my own backyard or a local park. Yes you can, but I think why there are retreat centers to go and groups that meet to do this practice, is that it holds you accountable. You are committed to the group. So if neither of these options are available, grab a friend, furry or not and commit to some time in the woods.
Benefits include: improved sleep (afternoon walks are better than morning walks), helps with depression, increase cancer fighting chemicals, decreased stress hormones like cortisol, coronary heart disease, asthma were reduced, heart rate variability (a measure of your overall health) among other benefits.
And did you know that certain volatile substances called phytoncides (wood essential oil) and antimicrobial VOC’s like a-pinene and limonene produce natural aromatherapy. These same phytoncides may help in producing the natural killer cells for cancer.
Then there is the sensory affect of being in the woods. Opening up your eyes to the colors, shapes, and the lines, then to your nose – smells of the elements of our world, taste – even the air or a safe berry or green (nature has so many foraging opportunities), and the ears – the ears will wake up to both the sounds and the stillness, and finally, touch – how does the air feel on your skin, feeling the ground that you are walking on.
Meditation for Your Walk in the Woods
The senses facilitates the present moment aiding in meditation. To immerse yourself in these wonderful moments, take a seat on a soft bed of leaves or dry ground, sit comfortably, take a few longer breaths in and out, feel your seat settling and your spine naturally aligned. Try softly focusing on an object in front of you and really see all the qualities of that object. Shift your focus from one quality to another with soft easeful breaths. Once this scan is complete, close your eyes and just breathe. Feel your whole self in this place just breathing. Your mind may wander, gently bring it back either to breath or to your seat, or both. Stay for as long as you like or until a gentle fawn walks up to you.