The end of 2017 is nearly here as we all prepare for it in our busy lives. Many of us will have holidays or short breaks. Most likely our routines are about to change- even if we are retired. It’s during this preparation time that I turn my thoughts to the concept of recreation. By this I mean a period of time in which we are re-created, as in created anew. We hold a collective belief around how time is marked and the pace of our society is organised around this belief. We welcome in the New Year with hopes for fresh opportunities and we prepare to re-create ourselves accordingly.
In the process of re-creation we return to the source of our being, hold a space to receive energy, allow it to germinate and grow with loving attention before planting ourselves and ideas in the world. From this viewpoint I want to introduce you to the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku.
Shinrin-yoku means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing”. This is an atmosphere I’ve tried to incorporate into my Fullarton clinic after a 500 km walk on the Bibbulmun track in south Western Australia. I was struck by how well I felt on this long forest walk and I wanted to share this sense with others. I thought ‘if I could see clients in the forest, we would both be well’ Upon my return to adelaide I tried to re-create this sense by decorating my clinic and ensuring it had natural light.
The practice of forest bathing is simple, extremely beneficial and you can do it yourself. You visit a forest, (a park or even the beach) and wander through very slowly. Leave your purpose, need for achievement, sense of self importance and mobile phone behind. The walk is not far, strenuous or long.
This walk is an invitation to yourself to be present. Present to the earth, to your senses and breath, to your skin and the soles of your feet, to the trees, to small plants and insects that live here. It’s an invitation to yourself to slow down in nature and allow for observation of yourself and the natural world around you. Let’s be clear that this meander is not a hike for aerobic exercise. This meander is about presence in this very moment that you are alive. You may only walk 1 km in 2 hours. That’s the pace. You are walking through the homes of other creatures that are different to yourself. Take the opportunity to discover the diverse communities in your natural environment through your experience and not intellectually. Through paying careful attention nature can be your greatest teacher.
Some simple suggestions to begin are as follows.
1. Pay attention to what you’re perceiving through your skin, then your ears, then notice how you are moving.
2. Look into the spaces around you. The spaces within spaces. Feel into the spaces through looking. Give yourself time to do this and stay with it. Observing the spaces outside you creates space in you.
3. Look at something really small and study it unflinchingly for 5 minutes. Notice what happens to your sense of space and time.
4. Breath with the trees, or the ocean. Pay attention to the exchange taking place. Trust yourself to dream and imagine.
5. Most importantly, don’t know anything. Approach with a sense of curiosity and wonder about things.
Our immune systems benefit when we return to nature. Other health benefits include reduced blood pressure and stress, better mood and ability to focus. Forest bathing will even help you recover from surgery and illnesses while improving your energy levels.
This is a blessing to go forth, aimlessly, without focus and to imagine. Remember you are nature. Reconnect with your true home. Returning is a practice.
I’m interested in running a short course on night time dreams next year. The course will run over 5 weeks, for 2 hours on a Monday or Tuesday evening. Each evening you will learn a new method to work with a dream. I’ll also be doing some demonstrations. At this stage I want to find out what you think. Would you be interested in coming along? I have the Fleurieu Art House Gallery available for a Southern Vales venue as I LOVE the idea of dreaming in an art gallery after hours. So please let me know if you are interested by replying to this email.
If you live closer to the city also let me know because if there are enough people I would love to share my passion for dreamwork there too. Please let your friends know. I know it will be creative, fun and unexpected.
Thanks for your interest and support of my practice over this last year. May we imagine a better world for next year.