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Shinrin-Yoku: A Visit to Your Forest

Written by Shruthi

Close your eyes. 

Feel the air becoming colder and the soundtrack of the forest, the one you’ve been travelling through all your life, more audible. One by one, you notice a few things:

I. A gentle gust of wind rustles the leaves; you can hear your favourite songs, the ones you used to listen to all those years ago. Reminiscing, you trace your path from that phase to where you are now. Listen closely, feel how far you've come. For it cannot be measured by simply turning around and looking; the trees have gathered behind your back and obscured the ground you’ve tread so far.

II. In the nook of a branch, a blue jay feeds her young. She briskly feeds them one after the other, over and over, to soothe their urgent cries. Maybe you need to take care of yourself like that, repeatedly and unconditionally tend to your needs as you would your own child. Don’t be hesitant to put yourself first, who told you that you couldn’t? Tell them that they’re wrong and extend your warmth to them as well. Let it thaw their numb fingers, defrost their frigid hearts.

III. You walk along a glistening stream; take note of how it bubbles its way through the woods, never a pause in its aquatic babble. This is how your mind bustles about, thought follows thought as you ruminate. There is never silence in the hum of your head as it churns through observations. If you listen closely to the brook, you might even hear the cryptic whispers it emanates. These are the clairvoyant musings you only ever hear in your dreams.

IV. In the distance, the mouth of the stream opens out into a vast lake. It mirrors a pale steel grey sky, decorated with magnificent clouds. The lake looks boundless with chance and bottomless with opportunity but there is a fog that rolls along the water, concealing what lies beyond. As intimidating as it is, you shouldn’t stop walking because as apprehensive as you are, you know you’re stronger than you think. One day you’ll get there and you'll see that it was worth every single step. 

V. The seasons change. Of course, it happens too slowly for you to comprehend but one day you look around and notice the leaves are a brilliant hue of vermillion when you could have sworn you just walked by a clump of purple wildflowers that now seem to be covered in snow, which has melted to reveal the green needles of the pine trees. Don’t let this confuse you. Accept change as it happens and adapt to its every move. You’ll soon learn to recognise the periodic pattern but also realise that nothing is ever like it once was.

Open your eyes. Before you let reality envelope yourself once again, remember that it is imperative that you do not forget to come back and listen to the tinkling of the trees, the rush of the stream and the crunch of the grass beneath your boots.

Remember to revisit your forest, if only to hear what song the birds have decided to sing for you this time.


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