Shinrin-Yoku

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Shinrin-Yoku refers to the art of Japanese “forest bathing” or opening our senses to nature.

Getting out in nature is our key to thriving as a family living in an urban environment. Without a yard, we have to make a concerted effort to plan outdoor activities. This can be as simple as a walk to the park, a trip to the lake, hiking, or a picnic.

There is a great deal of truth in the benefits of “forest bathing.”  Once we begin walking together outside and away from technology, our conversations begin to flow. Our breathing slows and our minds quiet with views of trees and rocks and nature.

We take time to look at interesting shapes in nature–different rocks, roots, and even mushrooms or moss provide an open door to imagination. The kids love to pick out walking sticks and they collect small pine cones, rocks, or blooms as we go.

Even better, are the times when we spot local wildlife. Jumping toads, bunnies, squirrels, or the occasional snake or fox. Last week, we hiked with a group from school and some of the kids found an intact skeleton! We knew it was a carnivore from the teeth, and many of us spent a great deal of time speculating about the mystery creature.

The smells are equally soothing. Pine needles, cedar, and earthy moss. Smoke from an autumn fire and melted chocolate on homemade s’mores. In the northeast, we also enjoy apple orchards and various fall festivals. Who wouldn’t be happy with a crisp apple from a tree and cider donuts?!?

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Being together outside…even when you are getting rained on…brings happiness and allows us all to reconnect.

There is always time to explore.