Forest bathing

We all know intuitively that going outside is good for us, and a growing foundation of science and neuroscience underlies the health benefits of being outdoors. In the 1980s, the secretary of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries coined the term shinrin-yoku for making contact with and being affected—both physically and mentally—by the atmosphere of the forest. Shinrin-yoku translates in the West as “forest bathing” and is part of what I call the green cure: connecting with the natural world to help us thrive physically, cognitively, emotionally, and even spiritually.

You need only the most basic equipment: Leave your camera, your journal, and your guidebooks behind, and turn off your mobile devices. Forest bathing is about being, not analyzing.

Find some trees….Find somewhere to sit or lean, where you can be still for 10-20 minutes or more without being in the way of bicycle traffic, ants, or poison ivy.

Now do just that — be still.  Be aware of your breath, but don’t force it. Let the experience come to you, don’t analyze. See what you see, hear what you hear, smell what you smell, feel what you feel. Light through the leaves…skittering or birdsong…blossom or decay…calm or grounded…

Alice Peck, Let Nature Heal You, in Mindful

Fresh eyes

If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!

Kierkegaard

Stories

We human beings have the ability to think of things not in front of us. We create stories in our minds in which the hero or heroine is always us. We evaluate what happened in the past, we analyze our present conditions, and we anticipate what should happen in the future…… But this ability leads to many problems. We have certain expectations of our stories. If things go as we expect, we feel like heavenly beings, but if not, we feel we’re in hell. Often we desire more and more without ever experiencing satisfaction, like hungry ghosts. It’s important to see that it’s not life that causes suffering but our expectation that life should be the way we want. We can’t live without expectation, but if we can handle the feelings caused by the difference between our expectations and reality, that’s liberation. 

Kosho Uchiyama, Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo

No substance

The “10, 000 things” is a shorthand way of talking about all the experiences –  good and bad – which arise and pass away in our lifetime.

The ten thousand things are all reflections

The moon originally has no light

Han shen, 9th Century