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Personal Musings

A walk in the woods

John Muir, father of America’s national parks, once said, “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

1.

She was quiet as her steps took her through the narrow corridor of the path on our return trek from Calvary and Chimney Rocks.

“Everything okay?” I asked.

“Just content. Peaceful,” my daughter said.

2.

A walk in the woods does wonders. With each step into the forest, I am reminded of this. There is little inside a home that will bring about the same peace found under a canopy of leaves deep in the woods.

Nothing you can buy in a store, watch on television, or find surfing on the web offers this tranquility. Nothing made by the hands of man can rival that which is not made by man.

3.

Shinrin-yoku, which translates to “forest bathing” in Japanese, is a term coined in 1982 by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.

Forest bathing encourages dwelling in the natural environment and absorbing the forest atmosphere. The point is to take in the natural environment, away from man-made structures, through all five senses:

  • sight
  • hearing
  • taste
  • smell
  • touch

The only “bath” you take is bathing the five senses with the lushness of green surrounding you. Or as my kids say, “That’s my kinda bath.”

The research on forest bathing is clear. According to the National Institutes of Health:

Studies have found that shinrin-yoku has positive physiological effects, such as blood pressure reduction, improvement of autonomic and immune functions, as well as psychological effects of alleviating depression and improving mental health.

Environ Health Prev Med. 2019; 24: 46.

Between every two pines, there is a doorway to a new world.

John Muir

By Jeffrey Pillow

Jeffrey Pillow is an American short story writer, memoirist, and poet. He is the author of The Lady Next Door. His writing has been published in Urge Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, 16 Blocks, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, TheBody.com, New York Times, Washington Post, and Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He grew up in the small town of Phenix, Virginia, population: 200, and now lives in Charlottesville with his wife, two kids, and a dog named Mozzarella Cheese. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he was a Rainey Scholar. This is his blog.