Monday, March 31, 2014

Take a Forest Bath!

Just back from our meditative walk before yoga class this morning. The mist is hanging delicately in all the meandering valleys and the welcome drizzle is gently watering all the newly planted herbs and veggies in the kitchen gardens. The smells of damp Eucalyptus and Pine trees together with the scent from the emerging spring flowers was divine today.

This week is a Soft Power retreat. And there's no better example here of the power water has to softly carve out the hardest of stone over the years, than these valleys. It's quite fitting that showers are forecast this week as we're focusing on the energy of water and its restorative ability to heal our bodies.

All this year I will be guiding our guests every morning on meditative walks through the surrounding forests. Depending on the retreat, we draw our attention to the various elements, their presence and effect on the landscape around us, and what might be happening in our own bodies as we move through it. It's a great way to start the day. I spent much of the autumn and winter walking the puppies after their breakfast. Now all but one have found new homes, it's gonna be lovely to walk guests instead! :)

 When Katherine found this old post the other day on Mother Earth News about Forest Bathing, I had to share it on the blog.

"The Japanese term Shinrin-yoku may literally mean "forest bathing," but it doesn't involve soaking in a tub among the trees. Rather it refers to spending time in the woods for its therapeutic (or bathing) effect. Most of us have felt tension slip away in the midst of trees and nature’s beauty. But science now confirms its healing influence on the body. When you spend a few hours on a woodland hike or camping by a lake you breathe in phytoncides, active substances released by plants to protect them against insects and from rotting, which appear to lower blood pressure and stress and boost your immune system." Photo Courtesy Fotolia/Inga Nielsen  

So there you have it. Scientific evidence, as if we needed it, that spending time with the trees is really good for us. The tree huggers were right all along. It's why we always encourage people to explore. Get out. Wander. Find a quiet secluded spot with an awesome view or find a rock by the streams and simply sit in the forest. Immerse your senses in the process. Smell it, feel, taste, touch, listen, and open up to the possibility that simply being in such an environment is healing in itself. When it really warms up in a few weeks time, it's nice to also be able to take a daily dip in the natural river pools and plunge pool to cool off. But until then, good to hear too that the non dip dry bathing concept is also just as therapeutic.

New Sweat Lodge

One of our guests who's been here a few times already, the lovely Georg, spent last week rebuilding a part of one of the terraces that had fallen in, then turned his attention to create this wee structure made from branches he found in the forest in front of the pizza oven by the Moses cottage. With 2 benches chainsawed from a pine trunk.

It's a Sweat Lodge. We bought new rugs yesterday to drape over the top and we're doing final heat checks on various stones from the river to see which won't explode in the fire. Seems to be the darker, harder more volcanic stone. Just need to check with the old guys in the village as they'll be sure to know, then we'll fire up the bread oven, heat the stones, bring them into the covered sweat lodge close the flaps, pour water on the hot rocks, and sweat.

When we get too hot, we'll explore the possibility of taking a plunge in this tank below fed by gravity from the river, with cold cold water, and returning back to the lodge again. We've talked forever about one day building a sweat lodge, and now, just like that, we might just have one. Thanks Georg! You're a star.


Last thing to mention today is that our new cook book "Nourish. Healing Meals from Vale de Moses" by Kat, is with the designers and the pdf should be ready for download in a few weeks. Keep an eye out for when it's released on FB or here on the blog. Then we'll be printing hard copies later in the year once we've taken a few more gorgeous food photos of all our retreat menus this season.

Happy Spring everyone. I hope you each get the chance to take a few hours out this week to visit any nearby forest or woodland to take a "forest bath".

On your own or with friends!   Enjoy. :)

Memphis x

"Ah listen, for silence is not lonely!
Imitate the magnificent trees
That speak no word of their rapture, but only
Breathe largely the luminous breeze."

From Corot by D.H. Lawrence, as featured on, and photo courtesy of, the Woodland Trust FB page. 

No comments: