‘Reunion (noun) – the action of being brought together again as a unified whole’.
For all of us here, living at Londolozi, communion with nature has brought us into a deep reunion.
More than ever we see ourselves as a unified whole, not only with each other but with the greater idea that we are all an interconnected ecosystem sharing one planet. Many of you will say that it’s easier when you are surrounded by nature everywhere and your morning commute to work includes a Torchwood Tree, an elephant traffic jam and a rather stunning African sunrise. I would agree that it may be easier for us out here in the wilderness of Africa BUT in truth we have come to now know that you can have a nature reunion anywhere, both internally and externally.
The beautiful action of communion with nature is a choice, and here are a few ideas of how to start…
Today I speak of Forest Bathing…
The term forest bathing first emerged in Japan in the 1980s as a physiological and psychological exercise called shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”). The purpose was twofold: to offer an eco-antidote to tech-boom burnout and to inspire residents to reconnect with and protect the country’s forests.
A session might last a few hours, and begins with a silent game drive into the African wilderness. Then it’s about a guided sensory adventure, we pull people’s energy and attention into the present moment, to give their bodies and minds a chance to slow down. When the perfect scattering of trees appears we stop and get onto our feet.
We ask guests to move very slowly, touching the trees, looking at colours and patterns, and breathing deeply. Notice the dappled shades of light; it’s almost as though the Londolozi atmosphere becomes tangible as we take it all in with intention. Gentle and quiet animals often join us: butterflies, grasshoppers, a dung beetle, and perhaps a hornbill. Then there are the ancient trees: 300-year-old Jackleberries, Leadwoods and Fig trees and I find myself wondering, “What have they seen? What do they know?”.
Being beneath this canopy of trees gives me strength and a feeling of health. Maybe it’s the clean air, maybe it’s the green that surrounds me, or maybe it’s the chemical released by trees (phytoncides) which have been found to boost the immune system. Sight, sound, taste, smell and touch all come back online… looking at nature’s patterns helps one to stop the thoughts spinning in the head. You are letting nature take up space inside of you.
We are still using this beautiful tool today on the Londolozi Retreats. Now more than ever our planet needs us to find our way back into connection with the natural world. More of our guests are asking for a wilderness-antidote to the ever growing screen and tech burnout.
Tips for Forest Bathing (anywhere):
- Let your body be your guide, Listen to where it wants to take you.
- Walk slowly… nowhere is somewhere
- You don’t need any devices
- Follow your nose
- Forget about time
- It doesn’t matter if you don’t get anywhere – You are not going anywhere.
- NO phone or camera required
- When you feel your mind running, ask: am I savouring the sounds, smells and sights and letting nature in? What needs more of my attention? Then pull your focus there…(the bird call, the light through the branches, the grass seeds)
“It only takes a reminder to breathe,
a moment to be still, and just like that,
something in me settles, softens,
makes space for imperfection.
The harsh voice of judgment drops to a whisper
and I remember again that life isn’t a relay race;
that we will all cross the finish line;
that waking up to life is what
we were born for.
As many times as I forget, catch myself charging forward
without even knowing where I’m going,
that many times I can make the choice
to stop, to breathe and be, and walk
slowly into the mystery”
~ Danna Faulds