I may have mentioned a time or two how much I love being out in nature. Guiding a group in Forest Bathing makes me especially happy and this week was a special treat.
I’m spending the week in rural Guatemala along the shores of Lake Atitlàn. Our view is of the three volcanos that are the prominent feature of the lake. Our friend Amanda, runs a school, La Puerta Abierta, in Santiago Atitlán and we had the honor of spending part of a day there. She’s an amazing teacher, embracing creativity, critical thinking and literacy as her main focuses. The campus is beautiful, really embracing nature, and Amanda feels strongly that kids should spend time outside. When we were there, one of the teachers had a classroom in the vegetable garden harvesting radishes.
With so much beauty surrounding us, I got to take a dozen or so second graders forest bathing! It was, of course, a pared down version of the usual 3 hour experience. We first connected with our senses. I guided the kids, through an interpreter, through each of their senses, asking them to call out what they heard, smelled, tasted, felt and saw. So many sweet smelling flowers in beautiful colors made this especially effective.
Then they each collected 5 nature items that they thought were beautiful and we created art, all together. Such beauty makers they are! We ended the experience by sharing how we each are going to take care of our environment.
It was gratifying for me to see the transformation that took place. While we walked to the spot, they walked in one line (so well-behaved!) not noticing anything but what’s in front of them. The way back was a completely different experience, with all of them much more aware, exploring this area that is so familiar to them with all their senses.
This is why I do what I do. When you are aware of the beauty of nature, you are much more likely to take care of her.
It strikes me that forest bathing is for everyone. What ever you want to call it, connecting with Mother Nature on a very deep level is good for your mind, body and soul. Where ever you are, whatever you’re doing, take a break right now and just sit outside for five minutes. Then you’ll see what I’m talking about!