Part of the 2020 good-times advent calendar! If you have ideas, and/or would like to see something fun drawn into the advent calendar, please let me know. Comment below or email/WhatsApp me and let’s have fun this next few weeks.
Shinrin-Yoku is a Japanese word that means something between ‘nature therapy’ and ‘forest bathing’. Western medicine hasn’t been paying attention for that long, but over the last few years there are have some documented mental and physical health benefits to spending time in nature. Some could be related to going for a walk, but you do not get all the same benefits from walking a long a busy highway as you do in a forest full of bird song. I’m not sure what the Cree description would be, but I am familiar enough with the English translations of ‘being on the land’ and ‘being in the bush’ to know that forest bathing and nature therapy are not exclusively Japanese. Likely this concept lives anywhere where spirituality is connected to nature and one’s part in nature.
Is there a nice patch of nature near you? Head there and hang out for a bit. Soak up some (also western-medicine- documented) mindfulness benefits by noticing the smells, sounds, feel of the terrain, topography, foliage, and creatures. This is the dark time of year, and that is something to notice too. We’ve spent a couple of weekends doing long ‘orienteering’ hikes to find the archeological sites/ ruins in our neighborhood. In finding them, we’ve spent some time noticing what was important to these Swedish ancestors (top of a hill, view of water, diggable earth) and also what they did with them (piles of small round stones and clusters of upright stones).
It is a great thing to get out in nature and notice things. It might even become a fun winter tradition.
Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.-Wu Men Hui-k’ai