Most of our content and programming focuses on the healing potentials of forests and green spaces. This focus is necessary given the rapid pace at which deforestation and urbanization of grasslands, marshes, and habitable land (read 'green space') is occurring. Yet for this rendition of the blog, I invite the readers to zoom outward and to take notice of the planet which is home to the forests and natural beauty. When looking at our beautiful home, one cannot help but feel kindred to the Blue Planet- Earth. It is on this floating blue orb that all of Life as we know it exists, and it is this blue orb which provides and sustains all this life. In this week's blog post, I take you on a exploratory journey of all the ways in which Earth and nature provides for human-kind, and leave us with an inquiry as to how to be leaders in maintaining balance so that we, as humans, will remain a part of the ever-evolving biosphere.
Plants are all around us. They live in our homes, grow from the cracks in the sidewalk, and populate the free spaces not occupied by asphalt and pavement. They are like the silent allies for us on this planet, and most of the time they go unnoticed. Plants are also the ones who line the trails through countrysides walked by generations of people; the paths pilgrims took to reach their sacred destinations. In this week's blog, guest writer Lora Krall tells of her journey on a hiking tour along the pathways taken by sacred pilgrims in Wales, and the unique connection experienced with the plants along the trail. This piece invites readers to notice the similarities among plants and people, and how this synonymity is what lends to our innate connection. May this piece broaden your perspective of the ever-mysterious plant kingdom.
The practice of Shinrin-Yoku, or Forest Bathing, centers around the concept of 'slowing down'. Health benefits such as a reduction in cortisol levels, increase in parasympathetic nervous response, and increase in immune function have all been cited as benefits of spending time in nature and the forest. However, these are only benefits found on the physical level. What about the deeper levels of human experience: the mental, emotional and even spiritual aspects of being a Being on this planet Earth? These sorts of philosophical inquiries naturally arise as one sinks deeper into the practice of nature-connection, and one that Certified Guide and Trainer Ben Page explores in this piece. What happens when we remove all the 'benefits', 'indicators' and 'measurements' from Forest Therapy and make space for something more simple to emerge- the pleasure of simply witnessing the world around you? What happens when you begin to inquire, "What am I noticing"? The answers which arise just may surprise you.
Sit Spot is one of our favorite invitations in Nature and Forest Therapy. It is not often that we are given time and space to simply sit on the Earth and just BE with whatever feels good to us. In our rush-rush-rush world, the practice of Sit Spot is like a nugget of gold for our tired hearts and souls. For those who want to dive deeper into the practice of Sit Spot, guest writer Jessica Collins provides a beautiful meditative practice to engage in while sitting. This meditation brings one's awareness to the elements- the primordial building blocks of all that we see around us. Deepening our experience and placing out attention on the elements during Sit Spot is a way to expand one's capacity to connect to Earth in a manner not normally presented in modern life. We invite you to practice this meditation and to begin to notice how the elements shows up in your everyday life.
Blog pieces are written by ANFT Writers, guest contributors, and introduced by Blog Editor Denell Nawrocki. Submissions may be emailed to Denell at ANFTsubmissions@gmail.com for consideration.