Into the forest, to lose my mind and find my soul
By harnessing the life-improving power of the outdoors, Kula and I have made it through the rainy gloom of winter on the wet coast in relatively high spirits. Through silent, contemplative hikes or the occasional frosty bike ride, we took at least an hour a day to go hang out in the woods.
Into the forest we venture along the well trodden “Word of Mouth” bike trail. Kula bounds over fallen trees and through mud puddles, every so often appearing upon on a superb lookout point to check and see if I’m still coming—thanks girl.
As I continue along the trail I notice how quiet it is. A couple hours till sunset there’s no one else around. I walk up to where Kula was standing and stretch out across the top of a cool, mossy boulder. I immerse myself in the rhythms and forms of nature. The smell of rain soaked earth, the soothing green colours that remind me of a Ross Penhall painting, the texture of the bark and moss, the sound of the birds calling from the branches and the stunning beauty of the ecosystem as the sunlight filters through the trees.
“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world” – John Muir
As my gaze softens and floats through the trees, the troubles I had weighing on my mind drift away. Everything seems to slow down and I feel calmer and more aware. Reflecting on the last few months, I consider how I’ve established new roots, found strength that I didn’t know I had, grown around insurmountable obstacles and let my dreams run wild.
Being surrounded by nature brings me back to baseline and reminds me to keep the big picture in mind. Nature provides a space to get clarity and focus, essential in our world that encourages non-stop technology and busyness, where we rarely enjoy the moment and always look to the finish line.
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu
Benefits of spending time in nature
It has been scientifically proven that when we spend time in nature, our brain behaves differently. It affects how we feel and think, which can have a direct impact on our happiness. The Japanese already had a name for the experience of well-being in nature: shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing”.
When you’re in the woods there are no influences or expectations, you are free to ponder life in its purest form. Surrounding yourself with nature, you are reminded that life is fleeting — and sometimes we need that to gain perspective and remember what truly matters and how small we are in the grand scheme of things.
Your vitamin D levels rise Sunlight on your skin activates vitamin D. Studies suggest that this vitamin helps lower blood pressure and fights cancer, depression and heart attacks.
Your stress levels drop Studies have shown that spending time in the forest lowers cortisol levels, makes us feel more empathetic, creative, connected to others and more in tune with our inner selves.
You’ll get more exercise If you’re hittin’ the outdoors, it means less screen time and more playtime! Hiking, biking, running and other ways you set your body in motion.
You’ll be happier Sunlight elevates the mood, physical activity increases endorphins and if you’re with your pals, well that also mean more smiles!