Nature Nourishes the Soul

When my family and I drove into Jackson, Wyoming we marveled at our panoramic views of the Grand Teton mountain, endless pine trees and the lush green grass. It was as though we were surrounded by a beautiful painting. It was clear that nature was our companion on this vacation. There are several trails weaving throughout the Grand Teton National Parks. One day, we walked the trail by Jenny Lake to see the Hidden Falls. Towards, the end of the trail I could sense we were getting close to the Hidden Falls. I could hear the sheer force of the water crashing into the river in the distance. The coolness in the air wrapped around us as we inched our way closer and closer. My anticipation was growing and I was excited to see the Hidden Falls. After we crossed the short wooden bridge and winded our way past other families and couples we could finally catch a glimpse of the strong and powerful water tumbling down over the enormous rocks below as it splashed into the flowing river. In that moment a sense of calmness washed over us. We were in awe of the incredible nature around us.

I remembered other friends on social media posting pictures in the forest with towering trees behind them with the caption of forest bathing. While I was unfamiliar with forest bathing an internet search revealed it’s a Japanese practice called ‘shinrin-yoku’. In English this means forest bathing. Dr. Qing Li, describes forest bathing as taking in the forest through your senses.

Dr. Qing Li is the author of the book: “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness.

The idea of forest bathing is to relax. Take a break from all distractions of social media, phone calls or texting. I learned that in the process of forest bathing, trees emit an essential oil called phytoncide to protect themselves from germs and insects. When we inhale this essential oil, it can improve our immune system function and our well-being.

While we were walking some of the trails, we found there was little to no cellular or internet service in some areas. Instead of relying on Google maps we were forced to use the map from the Visitor Center and explore the area. It was refreshing to put aside distractions and enjoy the beauty of Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks.

Etched in our memories are the beautiful mountains, waterfalls and wildlife we experienced from our vacation. Now that we’re back home, we bring a dose of forest bathing into our lives by adding National Parks and Forests to our travel bucket list. Here are some of the most popular National Parks in the United States:

In the meantime, we’ll nourish our soul by finding trails or parks in or near our neighborhood. Check your city’s website for local trails or parks. The links below are good resources for walking trails and walking groups in your location:

Dr. Li mentions that “Wherever there are trees, we are healthier and happier.”After you have found your spot for forest bathing remember to engage all your senses, take your time and appreciate the silence. If you can’t get out of the office try listening to nature sounds to soothe your body and mind. When we appreciate nature around us it replenishes us with peace, joy and a fresh perspective.

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