We walk through, run through, hike through, bike through, swim through, sail through, zip through and fly through nature, because time in nature is important to us, but we are also busy. But if we are ___-ing through, we can’t exist in it.

Press Herald reporter Deirdre Fleming takes the opportunity to do some forest bathing – walking slowly through the woods to benefit from nature – in the trees around the home where she and her husband live in Buxton. Gregory A. Rec/Staff Photographe

Even though you are moving through, you are separate – you’re outside. If you really want to experience nature, you need to sit in it.

For a while. Let yourself sink in. Let the outside world peel off your outer layer. You might endure a few bites from the smallest of boundary guardians: Consider them the price of entry.

Watch the birds as they fly past you, unseen. Listen to the water, and the whispering leaf wind of the maples. Feel the sun as it rotates. Look at the tiny lichen hands, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands of years old, battling with boulders and winning.

Watch as the bugs reveal themselves to you from their hiding places. On the undersides of leaves. Watch as they land on you – this unfamiliar terrain – and take off again. Be as curious about them as they are of you. See the speck crawling along your God-sized finger.

See the water striders on the surface of the stream, moving against the current to stand still, like Alice’s Queen. Do you see yourself in the reflection?


Be there. Alone, if possible. Quiet, if possible.

“But that’s so weird.” Weird is only what is barely outside of the ever-changing outline of acceptability. Lie on your back and see the forest like small things do. Let the wind breathe into you. Feel the texture of the bark, the rocks, the water. See that small beauty is everywhere. Listen to the rhythm of being surrounded by living things. Look at the twinkling shadows on the undersides of the leaves, with clouds wisping by. All day this is happening. Will be.

Look at the thousands of tiny scenes made by moss and seedlings. Like a million tiny universes in the infinite forest of reality. Hear the cicadas, endure the thrumming plane overhead, it will fade (it moves quickly), understand the mosquitoes, at least, if you can’t love them, witness the scavenging ants, the blooming mushrooms, the fungus on the maple leaf, the bulge in the trunk, the uprooted tree and the medusa it reveals.

This harmony is ancient. Think about that.

Turn off your phone, or better, leave it behind, along with as much as you can. You don’t have to walk far. Just far enough.

Step off the trail. Find a good sitting rock or stump or log or patch of grass or leaves or needles. Or sit on the Earth itself. Yes, you will get dirty. Try it once. You might find it thrilling. I’m not saying always like this. But one time. Try it one time. And be in nature.

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