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
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes,
Our lives ask us to die and be reborn every time we confront change – change within ourselves and change in our world. When we descend all the way down to the bottom of a loss, and dwell patiently, with an open heart, in the darkness and pain, we can bring back up with us the sweetness of life and the exhilaration of inner growth. When there is nothing left to lose, we find the true self — the self that is whole, the self that is enough, the self that no longer looks to others for definition, or completion, or anything but companionship on the journey. This is the way to live a meaningful and hopeful life — a life of real happiness and inner peace.
Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open
25% of Irish people check work emails while on holidays. 49% of Irish people between 25 and 34 check social media overnight if they can’t sleep.
Irish Times, Signs of the Times Survey 2019, April 27, 2019.
What is balance in a society whose skewing of time has it totally off-balance? What is balance in a culture that has destroyed the night with perpetual light and keeps equipment going twenty-four hours a day because it is more costly to turn machines on and of than it is to pay people to run them at strange and difficult hours? In the first place balance for us is obviously not a mathematical division of the day. For most of us our days simply do not divide that easily. In the second place, balance for us is clearly not equivalence. Because I have done forty hours of work this week does not mean that I will have forty hours of prayer and leisure. What it does mean, however, is that somehow I must make time for both. I must make time or die inside.
Joan Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily
St Finbarr’s Oratory, Gougane Barra, Co. Cork.
Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day
We can make our minds so like still water
that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images,
and so live for a moment with a clearer,
perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.
W.B. Yeats, The Celtic Twilight
Only one thing is harassing you: your own idea of achieving things as quickly as possible.
But meditation is not to be achieved; it is already there.
It has only to be discovered.
And discovery needs only one thing: a silent watcher.
Osho, Watch and Wait