Healing with Nature
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Some psychologists believe that mental health symptoms such as anxiety and depression arise because we are too alienated and disconnected from the natural environment. In our hectic daily lives, we get occupied and distracted with work, relationships, and other activities of living and we forget about the comfort found in Mother Nature. We should consciously strive to spend time outside. Make intentions to walk to work, when and if possible. Spend time at sea, in the mountains, or in the forest.
Plant a garden. Swim in the ocean, hike, cycle, have a picnic and spend time with your family or pets outdoors. All of these activities provide quality time with our Earth Mother and hold us in her naturally healing embrace. Also remember that as the Earth heals us, we can also do our part in healing the Earth.
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Recycle, reuse, conserve, and reduce waste. After all, one good deed deserves another. Spend time among trees and you might hear birdsong, the rumble of thunder, gurgling water, breezes on branches, crunching leaves, howls, and much more. This rich symphony is increasingly rare to hear. Even where I live, high in the Santa Cruz mountains and deep in the redwood forest, cars pass constantly on the road below my cabin, blocking the burble of a nearby creek.
To hear the sounds of the forest, Li advises listening outward. Being in the woods, where the sights are nice and the air smells fresh, aids outward listening. A walk in the woods is an intense aromatherapy session. Remember phytoncides, the tree defense system that heals humans as well? Well, the oils—called terpenes—smell good, too, and influence mood , simultaneously calming and energizing people. Vanderbilt adopted aromatherapy, too, after experiments showing that with essential oils, staff members were more relaxed and energized, patients slept better, and the air smelled fresher.
Tree species all have different phytoncides with various terpenes containing different scents and properties. Aromatherapy is serious medicine. To take it, just breathe deeply.
Inhale, exhale, enjoy. The soil, rich in nutrients, is also good for humans.
Japanese “forest medicine” is the science of using nature to heal yourself—wherever you are
Smelling and touching soil stimulates the immune system, making people healthier and happier. Indoors, Li advises practicing aromatherapy by sniffing essential oils, misting them into the air, or diffusing them with a humidifier. You can also burn incense, he says, or candles made with natural elements.
Hugging a tree can be strangely soothing.
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Li believes the affectionate act is good for us—it engages the sense of touch, get us right up in those phytoncides, and satisfies our biophilia. And when we go home—to visit family, say—and are feeling good, we often hug our relatives or greet them affectionately. Forest bathing is all about connecting with nature, and touch deepens connection. Grab some dirt in your hands. Forests are full of delicacies—berries, mushrooms, leaves and grasses, and bark to flavor tea or soup.
In Japan, restaurants near forest-bathing locations use elements of the woods in their cooking. Unless you know how to distinguish between poisonous and non-poisonous items, Li advises bringing your own tea and stopping for a thoughtful ceremony, or pausing for a sip of water from a stream you know is clean.
Mushrooms, apples, and their ilk contain the medicine and flavors of trees—concentrate on tasting them. In this context, the sixth sense refers to the sublime—a feeling of awe or wonder. Who knows? The aromatic whispers of phytoncides may also contain ancient wisdom.
The Benefits Of Ecotherapy And Healing Power Of Nature | Hong Kong Tatler
Li encourages us to see trees as part of our family, and to feel close to these quiet cousins. Emerson would agree. They nod to me and I to them.