I am a keen dog walker. Having a dog has definitely made me go and get out there in nature much more. Nowadays I quite like it too, whatever the weather! I am not suggesting you go and get a dog just for walking in nature purposes but nature has a secret way of making us feel happier, more positive, open chested, and fresher. You could say this is partly due to just getting more oxygen into our lungs but it is more than that, nature goes deeper than helping our physical health, it touches the unconscious mind and our soul.
I need a forest or nature fix in my day as much as possible. Why? It grounds me and is the first thing that pops into my mind. That sensory and physical connection to nature feels immensely calming and relaxing. As a Massage Therapist I feel walking in nature, forest, or just the local park, being aware of the smells, textures, the wind on my face and how that affects the way I move, makes me a better therapist. Nature helps me to bring mindfulness into a massage treatment. I am more focused and present in what I am doing in the massage, what I am feeling under my hands, and how the client is responding. So being outdoors, somewhere green, and practising mindfulness has an impact on my massage treatments.
I suppose partly this need for smelling the air, connecting with nature with every sense comes naturally for a Finn from the countryside. I grew up going berry picking, forest clearing, or fishing with my family and cannot say I was always thrilled about it back then. Nature is every person’s right in Finland, you can hike anywhere and everywhere, set up a camp around a fire for a few nights. I feel it should be like this anywhere, I believe we all need nature in our lives. We deserve to live in a nature-rich world but I believe we need to relearn the skill of protecting nature better first...
According to Chinese Medicine, seasons all have a different energy, which can affect our health physically and mentally. Now we are moving from the carefree, warm (ish), external summer towards the more serious colder and inwardly winter. With the weather turning, we are mostly spending time indoors, wanting to feel cosy in central heated environments, and it is tempting not to venture outdoors and this is fine too. But it is all about the balance. If you feel closed in or down, go outside for a walk or just a few deep breaths of fresh air - You do not regret going outside but you might regret not doing it.
I encourage clients to do a walk in nature before their treatment. Natures’ calming and grounding effect can help them to feel more connected in the body, and provide them with a better understanding of what they want from the massage at this time. Therefore, the health benefits of walking in nature could enhance their treatment efficiency. A nice relaxed stroll in the woods beforehand is obviously not always possible. As a therapist, it can be possible to bring a little nature into the treatment room. I often include forest sounds and bird song music into my massage treatments and include earthy essential oils like sandalwood or frankincense in an oil burner.
Being immersed in nature has been proved good for us and those who have access to nature have a better level of physical and mental well-being. We can forget about this in our busy life’s but it is important to allow ourselves time in nature and let it in. After all, Nature is our ancient home and we have only been living in urbanised areas for a few centuries. So just stop from time to time and look up, look down and take a deep breath, feel the air on your face, smell it, feel the sense of freedom and be mindful of what you see.
‘I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.’
(Henry David Thoreau)