Published May 2017 in Nanaimo Magazine and Voyager Magazine
Many studies have proven that it reduces stress hormones and increases the body’s immune defense system. Forest bathing became part of a national public health program in Japan in 1982. Wow! Without knowing it, I have been practicing shinrin-yoku my whole life, and I can definitely say it has remarkable health benefits!
In recent years, as I began to paint more often outdoors, I became aware of a little ritual I had developed. Before settling down to my easel, I wander around for up to an hour, immersing myself in the positive energy of the area until I feel “right.” Then I quickly set up my paints and like magic, a beautiful painting comes together. Occasionally when I have been short on time, I have tried to skip this little ritual, but invariably I become frustrated while painting.
After reading more about forest bathing, I believe this activity cleanses the stress from my body and allows my creativity to flow. I take time to “see slowly” and I become conscious and attentive to the natural environment. I am inspired and my painting goes well. Alice Walker said: “Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul.”