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This past weekend, I was invited on a “Sauntering Forest Walk” for relaxation and spiritual rejuvenation. According to Thoreau, sauntering comes from the saints’  pilgrimage to the Holy Lands. Saunt= saint, Ter= Earth.

On this walk, we were instructed to saunter: to be a saint walking and observing the earth. It was not a fast paced walk; it was intensely restful and rejuvenating. It grounded me and helped me to reset my mind and soul to what’s really important.

During the walk, our guide also introduced the idea of Forest Bathing. Apparently in Japan in 1982, a study was done on the benefits of being in the forest. The guide claimed that breathing in the beautiful air that is naturally infused with “volitile elements” purifies the blood in our bodies. Honestly, it sounded a little too out there for me, so I thought I’d look into the research. Sure enough, I found numerous websites proclaiming the benefits of the practice of “Shinrin yoku.” Who knew?Actually, I think anyone who has stepped out of their car and into the woods knows there’s a big difference between city and forest air.Even just a short drive to the countryside transports us to a completely different environment! I just love the smell of the woods, and it’s delightful that science now backs the benefits we could have long since guessed!

I want to challenge you to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, even for just an hour or two, and take a sauntering walk. Take your journal and see what you notice. Find a place to sit, to ponder and to write. Allow your heart and mind to be refreshed. If you are interested in taking one of these walks with Paula Gamble-Grant at Refresh and you live in the Portland area, I encourage you to sign up for one of the upcoming walks with her. Or just get out into the woods and take a walk on your own–it is amazing what it can do for your soul!

Enjoy these last weeks of summer and beautiful weather!