Did you get to celebrate Earth Day this weekend? Many people simply get outside and enjoy nature, while others take steps to protect and preserve the Earth by doing things like conserving energy, cleaning up their communities and recycling, or even working hard to help pass legislation that will help curb the effects of climate change.
For this Earth Day, I want to plant a seed and encourage you to go outside for some Niksen time in nature and “bathe” in nature. The past few years, the practice of Forest Bathing has become more popular in the West (though it was developed in Japan over 40 years ago!). Simply put, it's being in nature, not doing much of anything, letting our bodies absorb the healing properties of nature. Forest Bathing can be as simple as walking in any natural environment and consciously connecting with what’s around you. For a more structured experience, you can join trained guides for a meditative two- to three-hour ecotherapy excursion. I won't go into the science here, but if you want to learn more, you can check out this link from the Forest Bathing Institute.
In Forest Bathing, you are offered what are called "invitations," which are basically different ways to connect with nature (& yourself). Here are seven invitations for you to consider when trying forest bathing for yourself. You can pick just one or several of these, whatever you feel drawn to. Spend as much time with each as feels right for you.
It's with this realization that I want to leave you with today, and it is this that draws me to celebrate Earth Day every day. Knowing and wondering about these connections is what drives me to support and protect the Earth whenever I can, and I hope it inspires you to do the same.
Happy Earth Day!
The changing of the seasons is always a rough time for my mental health. Over the years, I’ve learned to plan ahead for this discomfort, and build in some cushion to ease the transition. Like planning easy meals and extra down time.
Why is a change of season so hard, you might ask? For someone with persistent depression, it takes me a long time to get used to new things. Transitions to new schedules, new people, and new tasks seem to take me longer than it takes other people. I’ve learned to be OK with that, and give myself grace and support through these times as I wait patiently for the new normal to set in.
A flock of robins came fluttering into the yard suddenly, hopping around, pecking at the ground. I've never seen so many robins in one place before. They were only there for a few minutes, but left an impression of awe & wonder, and I decided to look them up and learn more about them.
I'm starting to see pumpkins and Fall decor in the stores, as well as pumpkin spiced foods, but it's just too damn hot still to enjoy these...yet. It's this weird in-between time that's made even harder by the fact that I work in an elementary school, so the last six weeks of summer were way too busy to try and enjoy or squeeze any last summer joys out of. I just want to get this damn hot season over and move on to the good stuff.
Imagine that you decide to sit with your coffee and just let your mind wander for a few minutes. Maybe your thoughts start spinning, or distractions try and draw you away from your peaceful moment. But let’s say you just stick with it for a little longer...
As I’ve settled into more Niksen time, and have learned to move through my depression, my life has slowed down tremendously. So when I watched the film Christopher Robin with my son recently, I was reconnected with the wonderful world of Winnie the Pooh. I grew up reading his books and watching his shows, and I remember in college reading the book “The Tao of Pooh,” and so I also associate his character with a Zen way of life. I’ve never adopted a fictional character as a Spirit Animal before, but after all, he is a bear!
As someone who has suffered from depression for over a decade, I have read SO many self-help books, and followed the wellness trends from many holistic sources. They all have one thing in common: they require me to DO something about my life. They tell me how I can improve my life in a myriad of ways. Some of them have been helpful, don't get me wrong, but if you're familiar with depression, not wanting to DO anything is quite common.
Niksen, or the Dutch art of doing nothing, offers an alternative: doing nothing. I'm a pro at doing nothing! In fact, it's in my nature. Believe it or not, it's in our human nature as a species as well. Even in our hunter and gatherer days as a species, we found time to rest and do nothing. And we did it outside in nature, which offers us so many insights and connections. Nowadays, we turn to screens to relax more often, instead of tapping into more natural rhythms that can truly sustain us.
Mother Nature has always been an expert at going slow, evolving over Millenia. We can get grounded and tap into this slower pace of life by being outside as well. Nature gives us a greater perspective of the arc of life on this planet, which helps us see the challenges of our lives more clearly in the grand scheme of things. If this practice of niksen in nature sounds appealing, and you're eager to slow down and connect with what's important for you, read on my friends.
Halfway through summer, I was already starting to stress about going back to school. I'm a K-5 P.E. teacher (which I actually call Health & Fitness), and was looking at two weeks of summer camp, then two weeks of teacher prep. So basically, I felt like my summer was already over, and it was only July. As a proactive measure, and to keep myself accountable to it, I started a 28 day challenge of sorts to get myself out in nature for some niksen time, and posted my progress to Instagram & Facebook.
Do you ever feel exhausted for no obvious reason? You're not sick, over-stressed or menstruating, but yet you feel exhausted? That happened to me again this week, and the first thing I looked at is the lunar cycle. Sure enough, there's a new moon this week.
Teacher, mother, lover of lounging in nature. This blog documents my experience with Niksening in nature and applying this type of minimalism to all aspects of my life, in order to simplify and amplify the best parts of life.
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