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The Practice of 'Forest Bathing'

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

Did you know a simple walk in the woods is not only considered a great low-impact exercise activity, but also a meditative, creativity-boosting, practice that inherently strengthens one's relationship with the natural world?

Photo above features a Black Locust Tree, Robinia Pseudoacacia, in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Did you know, Locust trees are known for their brawny wood and are commonly used as fence posts in rural areas due to its strength and durability.

'Shinrin-Yoku' is the official Japanese term that emerged in the 1980's in order to encourage people to spend more time in nature during the boom of computers and the technological age. Though the notion was created decades ago, it seems even more relevant today.

During the 2020 Pandemic I gained an appreciation for mushrooms after visiting a local mushroom farm Haw River Mushrooms for a log inoculation class. All of the sudden I found myself walking through my yard, along local neighborhood trails, and in forests around me with my head down, searching for fungi. Each day I became more intrigued with the small things I'd discover on my journey to learn more about mushrooms. I'd spot a Red-Tailed Hawk circling it's nest, a colony of ants carrying pieces of a dead dragon fly into their home, or a species of mushroom I'd never noticed before.

At the end of the day my partner and I would ask each other, "What was the best part of your day?" and I'd find myself immediately thinking back to that new purple mushroom I'd come across on my walk, or the rare wild flower I spotted and identified through my field guide. I started to notice how small moments in nature made an impact on my mental health, mood, and overall motivation in life. It seems that learning about the natural world allows us to feel connected and appreciate the smallest things around us.

So if you can, take a walk in the woods today.


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