Mother Nature’s gift to all

The Japanese call it “forest bathing”. In Canada, your doctor may prescribe you not a pill but a free national parks pass. Your mom probably told you to “get out there and breathe some fresh air.”

Forest bathing is described as “the practice of consciously immersing oneself in nature, using one’s senses to derive a range of benefits for one’s physical, mental, emotional and social health. He is also known as Shinrin-yoku. “Shinrin” means forest and “Yoku” means swimming.

Does it work? Forest bathing appears to significantly alleviate the root cause of a host of ailments, starting with stress. And we all know that excess stress can play a role in headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, and arthritis, among many other ailments.

It’s almost too simple, isn’t it? Just get out more and let Mother Nature help us for free. And it doesn’t have to be a literal forest either. A park, a trail, a beach, a lake, any natural setting will do. Then turn off your phone and live in the moment while bathing in nature. Take a few deep breaths and watch your setting. Really look and listen to your surroundings. Relax and detach. Let your mind and senses wander.

The goal? Twenty minutes or so each day, but really all you can spare, and soon you’ll want to take that time for your dose of Mother Nature.

Starting in January 2022, doctors in four Canadian provinces began writing prescriptions for national park passes. The program, called Park Prescriptions (PaRx), aims to strengthen people’s mental and physical health. PaRx Director, Dr. Melissa Lem, Family Physician, [said] “There is ample evidence on the health benefits of time spent in nature, from better immune function and life expectancy to reduced risk of heart disease, depression and anxiety.”

These nature prescriptions were one of the top eight global wellness trends of 2019 and are on the rise worldwide.

It’s vitamin D. It’s the fresh air your mother sent you to. Why not try it? Mother Nature wants to help you.

Poet James Weldon Johnson also recognized this in his poem “Deep in the Quiet Woods”.

“Are you bowed in your heart?
Do you hear only the discords and the din of life?
So come, come to the peaceful wood.
Here bathe your soul in silence. Listen! Now,
Of thrilling loneliness
Aren’t you catching strains that are still weak and elusive?
They are above, around, within you, everywhere.
Listen in silence! Clear, and still clearer, they come.
They bubble in undulating notes and swell in singing tones.
Now let your soul run the gamut of the wonderful ladder
Until, sensitive to the tonic chord,
He touches the tuning fork of the great organ of the cathedral of God,
Fill the earth for you with heavenly peace
And holy harmonies.

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