Into the Wild Wood (Part 1)

Ladies and gentlemen may I introduce to you, all the way from Japan Shinrin Yoku (a thunderous round of applause follows).

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Shinrin Yoku might sound like a Tarantino character from the film Kill Bill but it is in fact Japanese for ‘taking in the forest atmosphere.’ This was week twelves challenge in ‘wake up’; to forest bathe and embrace nature.

When I first saw the challenge I was filled with so much positive emotion that all I could hear in my head were voices shouting things like; “GET IN THERE!”, “OH YES!”, “COME ON, LET’S GO!”

I wasn’t surprised with these voices because I simply love nature. Seriously, I love forests, beaches, hills, and all other natural landscapes – I always feel connected there – my spirit flies. I have always believed that there are ‘forces’ that we just can’t explain that live in these spaces, you can feel these places breathing and living! There is a vibrancy in these places that doesn’t exist on concrete landscapes. I believe that within nature there are things we don’t understand but sense on many levels. These places offer so much to our wellbeing. They can be everything from stress-busting, a place for deep thought and finding focus or a place where we can lose our thoughts and relax – Mother Nature doesn’t judge she just yields. My only problem with my belief in Mother Nature’s spirit is I don’t connect to it enough even though I know she is there for me any time I want her. Unfortunately like everyone else work and ‘time’ conspire against me. But, eh oh people, that’s why were in ‘wake up’, to literally wake up and live a more connected life.

Unfortunately I had a little problem…

I always rush headlong into the ‘wake up’ challenges but this one I knew I wouldn’t be able to start on the first day because of a miserable cold that I unfortunately caught from one of the staff at the pub and believe me it was a rotter, I felt very rough. I had gone a year without a cold and this one hit me hard. My mind was racing with wanting to get out into woodland to be one with Shinrin Yoku but my body was telling me I couldn’t, I just didn’t have the energy.

The first day was a none starter but on the second day I felt slightly better and would have considered starting the challenge some time later in the day but another member of staff phoned in sick which crushed any plans I had. Day three, the cold was worse than the previous day and I realised that once again there was no chance of starting it. On the fourth day I decided enough was enough and I was going to go to the woodland on my dinner break regardless of how I felt. That plan was thrown in the bin when within ten minutes of starting work I thought I was going to throw up and faint. I knew at that point that the challenge would not happen this week. I was gutted and decided I would do the challenge at a later date, as soon as I possibly could.

I felt annoyed because I know the benefits I will get from the challenge. It also made me regret all the times I’ve wasted when I could have bathed in the forest but just couldn’t be bothered putting in the effort and energy to get there. Now, thanks to Mr Cold I had no energy to even try to get there!

From not being able to do this challenge I could only wish that I was now living in Japan were my local GP would have signed me off work for four days to spend forest bathing. That would have helped beat Mr Cold. Unfortunately I live in England which means there are no GP’s in the land who would offer this service and I would just have to go to work suffering the effects of Mr Cold just like everyone else does.

The experience of not being able to complete the challenge (or start it for that matter) was a disappointment but I know I will complete it soon, the moment I have enough energy to get out and into woodland. I am determined to do this at the earliest opportunity because I know of the benefits of a visit to a place of natural beauty will bring. Then Shinrin Yoku and I will step into the wild wood and discover things.

You may have beaten me this week Mr Cold but watch out I’m on the hunt and you better watch out for part two.

Mark Cuddy

Someone who learned to wake up


Go to the profile of Fiona Dolben
over 5 years ago
Don't give yourself a hard time for not feeling well. Treat yourself kindly and I'm sure once you are feeling better you will get to enjoy some forest bathing :) Get well soon and hug a tree ...
Go to the profile of Mark Cuddy
over 5 years ago
You're right. I'm feeling better this afternoon though, so who knows I might be able to Shinrin Yoku tomorrow - yeah, yeah!
Go to the profile of Vanessa
over 5 years ago
Hope you're feeling better, and thanks for a great post. It's a good reminder not to take all we have for granted and waste opportunities to get outside - just what I needed to get me out of bed for a long walk! Hope you're out there in the woos soon; I'd love to have some in striking distance...
Go to the profile of Mark Cuddy
over 5 years ago
Cheers Vanessa. I'm a bit better thanks to a trip to the doctors and a prescription of antibiotics but I still haven't been able to start the challenge but I'm determined to do it this week. Thanks for your support. Mark
Go to the profile of Chris Baréz-Brown
over 5 years ago
Darn, hope you on the mend. You are so right that Eastern philosophy would be to nurture yourself and listen to your body clock but Western ways are so 'get on with it'. Hope you better now and great post despite Mr Cold! C x