In modern day living we spend far too much time focused on what has been and what is to come without really paying any attention to the present moment. And it’s called the present because it’s a gift. It’s a moment that hasn’t happened before and won’t happen again. It’s about being in a place called here and a time called now.
It’s one of the things that I love about forest bathing. The practice encourages you to be present. To be in that moment. To not worry about where you have come from or where you are going but instead to experience what is happening here and now. To be in your body, not in your head.
Alongside being a forest bathing guide, I’m also a Wim Hof Method Instructor. I bring forest bathing into all the workshops that I host as I want all of my participants to be present. You can see them arrive with additional baggage – stress, worry, anxiety. They are tense, worried about what is to come. Before we start any of the core Wim Hof Method work – we go forest bathing first. We open up our senses, open up our hearts, slow down and be present. And suddenly that extra baggage they arrived with has vanished. They’re relaxed, they’re calm and most importantly, they’re present.
It’s a common theme in the sharing circles hosted during my sessions – be they Wim Hof Method or just forest bathing – that it’s been years since they were last fully aware of being in the moment, especially outdoors. For some it’s been a reminder of a much loved childhood spent outside watching dragonflies skip across a pond or sat in amongst the branches of a beloved tree. For some, being present offers a sense of wonder, of joy and of playfulness that they knew once but lost somewhere along the way. And perhaps that’s what we mean by ‘growing up’ – that our awareness moves up from being in our bodies to being in our heads?
I’ve seen, with many participants I’ve had on my forest bathing walks, a sense of guilt when I encourage them to be present. We live in an age where we’re almost conditioned to be anything but present. I give you permission here and now to be present – whether it’s eating a meal and being aware of the taste and texture of every mouthful, a moment spent outside listening to the bird song, being aware of each melody that makes up the symphony or, when you feel your mind start to wander and stress enter the room – become aware of your breath, slowing down the exhales to calm your mind.
Enjoy being in this place called here and this time called now.