Recently on a cool, fall morning Larry and I took a walk on the wooded trails of Pigeon Creek Park. I found myself wondering: Why do I really like walking in the woods? Well, for starters, it is quiet and peaceful. I can breathe in refreshing air, hear the birds sing . . . and if I’m very still, I’ll hear acorns drop to the ground. The forest floor is gentle on my feet and legs. I love kicking through the fallen leaves. I can see a variety of colors and shapes. Sometimes I hear trees creak.
In the woods, I can think deep thoughts or just coast and absorb the enchanting beauty. A walk in the woods is like a prayer to me. And did you know that scientists have studied the marvelous benefits of intentionally “soaking up the sights, smells and sounds of a natural setting” of the woods? They call it “Forest Bathing.” – what an interesting idea!
I did some research and learned that Forest Bathing:
- Lowers heart rate and blood pressure
- Improves sleep quality
- Reduces stress
- Boosts the immune system
- Improves mood and better overall feelings of wellbeing
An additional way to enjoy a walk in the woods—although it will be a noisier walk—is to invite your kids or grandkids to accompany you. My friends Beth and Dave suggest challenging the kids to an “Alphabet Scavenger Hunt.” Starting with the letter “A” they must find an object that starts with “A,” like an acorn. Then they see how far they can get through the alphabet. Suddenly a walk (“Oh Boring”) turns into a game. And perhaps after the walk you could enjoy cider and donuts as a prize for their accomplishment.
Naturalist John Muir (known as the “father” of our national parks) once wrote, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” I couldn’t agree more! This fall, consider “bathing” in the wooded beauty in a natural setting that surrounds you. It is just so good for you! To inspire you, here is a photo that Jennifer, our ministry’s website editor took on one of her “forest bathing” walks. Look at how the ray of light, beams down, like a lovely message from God.