“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way… As a man is, so he sees.”William Blake
Time spent under a canopy of trees has long been known to refresh us in both mind and body. The Japanese have developed this practice into shinrin-yoku* which simply means a ‘forest bath’. And now the Woodland Trust is recommending that GPs promote forest bathing as one of the range of therapies being introduced as social prescribing.
I’m very fortunate to live halfway up a mountain pass, with woods populated by ancient oaks and firs occupied by sheep, wild Welsh ponies and countless birds. We inhabit and share this beautiful space through wind, rain and sunshine. Being in this special place has had an enormous positive impact on my general health, mostly on my mental wellbeing. As I drive up the hill after a busy day, I can feel the stresses of work lift from my shoulders almost physically. The air and light here is different. No urban noise or streetlights to pollute. The dark and silence, other than that of nature, can sometimes unnerve people. I’ve embraced it. And so has Hector my hound.
In this week of #CreativityandWellbeing we will hear a great deal about the importance of Art in our lives. To make, to design, to write, to paint, to draw, to immerse oneself in the visual. We must campaign to ensure Art, in all its forms, is valued and invested in (NSEAD).
We believe Art is fundamental to human expression.
We get our inspiration for our own creativity from being with other people, from discussion, from reading, from visiting art exhibitions and from walking in the trees. It’s what we foster and develop through our work deinstitutionalising health spaces at Evermore Wellbeing with our Big Table workshops. It’s how we support and help artists realise their true commercial potential via Life:FullColour. We believe art and creativity should be accessible to all ages. And that is also true for access to green spaces.
I read recently a compelling book by Richard Powers called The Overstory. The cover blurb states the story: “unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables”. Its central theme is trees. Each chapter focuses on a different time period, well-formed characters and a tree is the integral part of the narrative. In this richly woven story, we can really feel the growth and destruction of the trees. A myriad of colours comes richly to the fore. It has inspired me to get my chalk pastels out for simple abstract daubing of my local landscape.
Whatever method you use to take time to be mindful, de-stress and focus on your personal wellbeing, we recommend you take a good look at the trees near to you and walk amongst them. They really do have supernatural power.
Sara McKee, Founder of Evermore and Life:Full Colour
Follow Sara on Twitter and join in the conversation @SaraMcKeeFRSA
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