When life sends you rain, find waterfalls. This month we explore a collection of short waterfall meditations to help you find your calm.
Waterfalls have this unique ability to pause our train of thoughts, bring our awareness to the present moment and fill us with awe. Seeing the movement of water on it’s journey to the ocean reminds us in many ways of our own journey in time. For a brief moment one is conscious of the larger but unseen laws that govern the flow of nature and life.
Given below are 7 short waterfall meditations. Simple ideas and thoughts that one can contemplate on, while enjoying the beauty and wonder of the waterfalls. Find an image or words that call out to you and spend a little time absorbing it’s essence.
*Note: Some of the gifs on this page may take time to load on slow internet connections. We hope you patience is amply rewarded.
Fall. Rise. Repeat
Slow down. Find yourself.
From Nothing. Into Nothing.
We hope these words and waterfalls encourage you to explore the hidden peace, power and potential that lies within each one of us.
It would be really nice to hear your reflections or meditations with waterfalls. Please add to our collective knowledge by sharing your insights and experiences in the comments section.
END NOTE: You can subscribe to our monthly blog posts at this link. We are a small group of friends trying to help people reconnect with nature. Our aim is simple. Helping people heal. Helping forests heal.
Parks, forests, coasts, urban gardens, backyards, or any space where nature is predominant are prime places for nature-connection experiences. The activities shared here may be done alone, in pairs or with groups.
As with any outing in nature, please be aware of any potential hazards, such as poisonous plants, slippery rocks, and bugs that bite.
1︱Grounding with Yoga
Find a quiet place in nature, take off your shoes and stand on the earth. Feel the energetic charge from your legs, ankles and feet compared to the feeling of the ground. Stand for a few minutes until you feel stable. Then, do the following three yoga poses: Mountain Pose,Warrior I Pose, and Tree Pose (detailedhere). Synched with the breath, these poses bring fresh oxygen and phytoncides (natural compounds that increase blood cells which fight cancer and tumors) into our lungs, tissues and organs. They also ground our bodies and can give relief from inflammation, pain and stress. (Source)
Find a quiet place and get comfortable either standing or sitting on the ground. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and wait to feel grounded. Become aware of your environment by focusing on one sense at a time. Tune into sound and notice the sounds near and far, the silence in-between sounds, and the whole soundscape. Tune into touch and notice the texture and qualities of the air on your exposed skin. Spread your fingers (and toes) and feel the air between them. Notice the the warmth and coolness from the sun and shade. Tune into smell and notice the different aromas present. Taste the air. Tune into gravity and feel it pulling you to the earth. Gently sway your body. Put your hands over your heart and feel your heartbeat. Return to any sensation you like. Are birds singing? Are trees rustling? Can you feel the warmth of the sunshine? When you’re ready to open your eyes, open them slowly and notice all around you.
On a walking trail, park or open space, walk at a pace that feels comfortable to you for about 20 minutes. No matter how you walk, focus your attention on nature and your breathing. You may like to alternate between slow, brisk, and fast walking. Slow walking fosters a heightened state of awareness, calm and connection with the natural world. In large open spaces, such as a park, try slow walking in circles, expanding and contracting the size of your circles. Faster walking relieves stress and energizes the body. Try holding your arms out to your sides as you walk, like an airplane, or stretching them over your head. No matter how you walk, do pause along the way to notice the small wonders of nature.
❤ Read the story behind this film and get a copy of the poem at this link.
4︱Make Friends With Trees
Find a tree that attracts to you and make friends with it as you like. Spend at least 10 minutes with your tree. Some possible ways to engage with trees are:
Explore the tree: Gaze at the tree for five minutes. What does it tell you about itself? Trees belong to species and have histories, families, health issues, and unique qualities. Lean against the tree, touch the tree, hug the tree. What knowledge does it share with you?
Climb the tree: Carefully climb (shoes off) and find a place to sit or lie safely and enjoy the view.
Tell the tree a story: Share a secret, your dreams, a prayer, or send a message to a loved one.
Meditate with the tree: Either sitting or lying down, breathe and exchange oxygen and energies with the tree.
Stretch your body with the tree: Use the tree as a support to stretch your back, arms, legs and torso.
Nature is a wonderful therapist. Using your senses, let yourself be drawn to an element of nature, such as a tree, a rock, or light. Sit comfortably with it and ask a question, silently or aloud, that you are seeking support or guidance on. With your senses open and mind neutral, listen. An answer may come to you in the form of an intuition, a physical sensation, an animal guide or something else. It is possible that no answer will come while you wait, but it may come to you later in another way.
Create an impermanent artwork made from found elements of nature. The work of Andy Goldsworthy is an inspiration, but we need not go so far! Some ideas for your nature art: gratitude mandala, spirit altar, ikebana, labyrinth, toy house and bridge. If you’re with others, try a ‘gallery walk’ afterwards to share your creations.
Indigenous cultures considered animals to be our brothers and sisters and knew how to speak with them, as did saints, sages, yogis and mystics. Animals experience the world in ways that overlap our own, and each species has special powers and characteristics. We can learn to appreciate animals by bring their aspects into ourselves through observation and play. If you’re alone, sit someplace quietly and open yourself commune with the animals by maintaining a neutral, open, gentle state of awareness. Imagine the qualities you love most aboutyour favorite animal and bring these visualizations into your own body. After some time, animals and birds will become used to your presence and may come out of hiding.
For groups, stand in a circle and ask people to call forth their spirit animal (or a favorite animal). Then, give yourselves a task, such as building animal homes, or a game to play. After 15-20 minutes of play, reconvene in a circle to create a poem. Begin with a word or sound that suits the day, and then going around the circle each person contributes a word/sound until a freestyle poem emerges and runs its course.
Dance in nature. Dance alone with headphones. Dance with friends. Make a drum circle. Stomp and clap. However you like. Be respectful of nature and dance with it.
If water is present, find a comfortable place to sit beside the water to meditate or simply enjoy the sensory experience. Water sounds and vibrations calm our brains and nervous systems. Moving waters encourage going with the flow, letting go, movement, change, and creative energy. Still waters encourage self-reflection. If possible, feel the water with your hands and feet. Get a natural foot massage and refresh yourself.
Find a comfortable spot on the ground, lie down, take off your shoes, and take in the life around you. Sky-gaze, daydream, meditate, watch insects, breathe, nap, or feel free to simply enjoy being with nature. Try positioning your body like a starfish, with arms and legs outstretched. This grounding activity will calm and refresh your body and mind.
*This page is part of our Nature Calm course with 100+ ideas for mindful nature based activities and meditations from around the world.
Article contributed by Julie Hall. Julie is a forest therapy guide and founder of Shinrin-Yoku Walks.
Travel with us into the delightful healing forests of Japan. Discover the magical moss covered forests of Yakushima island and know about the volcano museum. Breathe in the deep greens of dense forests and soak in the crystal streams, waterfalls and hot springs scattered around.
During the 1980’s Japanese researchers and scientists started discovering multiple benefits of being in forests and reconnecting with nature. With the development of medical equipment related to natural and life sciences, this field has advanced even more. They have given us scientific proof on our intuitive understanding that nature heals. Japan as a country has established many healing forests in their country over the years. Designated nature reserves where people can go to experience the healing powers of forests.
Japan is a technologically advanced world. Cities have become mazes of steel, concrete and silicon, swimming in a sea of electromagnetic waves. In this electronic age, some part of us still yearns for the freedom and comfort of nature. For many people, the answer lies in reaching out to the forests.
Shinrin-yoku is a term the Japanese use to describe this practise of immersing oneself in the forest. Literally translated it means ‘forest bathing’. Allowing nature to cleanse the mind and spirit of negative thoughts and emotions. Reawakening your senses, rejuvenating your energy and adding strength to your healing ability.
Given below is a hand picked list of some of the best healing forests of Japan.
Shiratani Unsuikyo, Yakushima Japan
One of Japan’s natural wonders, Shiratani Unsuikyo Gorge on Yakushima Island is home to a mystical, primeval forest with yakusugi cedar trees between 1,000 – 7,200 years old. Covered in 600 types of moss, the forest glows green and radiates an otherworldly beauty that is legendary in Japanese culture. Shiratani Unsuikyo is best explored on the longer trail, Taiko-Iwa, that passes through the most luscious landscapes on the island and leads to the top of the mountain with stunning panoramic views. Yakushima Island is a registered UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site for its rare and diverse ecosystem, unlike any other on earth. Indigenous deer and monkeys roam freely. There are many places along the trail to stop and enjoy the scenery. Bring your rain gear and lunch, walk carefully and enjoy! Information contributed by: Julie Hall, www.shinrin-yoku-walks.com
“A town of great natural beauty, clean streams and hot springs”, Kitago Town in Nichinan City is located in the southern part of Miyazaki Prefecture. The natural hot springs of 51 degreesC welling up from 800 meters below the ground are popular with visitors from both within and outside Miyazaki who refer to it as the “The Beauty Hot Spring”. Hanatate Park is famous for its 10,000 cherry trees and in spring, visitors flock from all over to gaze at the clouds of soft pink blossoms.
Ukiha City, Fukuoka Located in the southeastern part of Fukuoka Prefecture with the Minou Mountains ranging to the south and the Chikugo River flowing in the north, Ukiha City has a rich natural environment.
Iinan, Shimane The Town of Iinan nestles in the highlands at an elevation of 450 meters. The sources of both the Hii and Kando Rivers are to be found in this region made famous by its long history of rice and vegetable production. With easy access to such a rich natural environment, the town of Iinan’s Forest Therapy programs offer a combination of nature, history and culture.
Ashizu, Chizu Town, Yazu-Gun Along the forest therapy road in Chizu, in the Ashizu valley, flows one of the best streams in western Japan. It is situated in a forest of cedar and hardwoods. The valley is magnificent in all the four seasons and has something new to offer every time you visit. The valley stretches to the Chugoku Nature Trail, encircles the Mitaki Dam and continues on to the upstream river valley.
Shiso, Hyogo Surrounded by towering mountains with an elevation of over 1000 meters, such as Hyonsen, the highest peak in Hyogo Prefecture, the City is full of lush greenery as it is part of the Hyonosen-Ushiroyama-Nagisan Semi-National Park and the Onzui-Chikusa Prefectural Natural Park.
With towering mountains, primeval forests and clean sparkling lakes, it has an undulating terrain surrounded by high 2,000 meter mountain ranges rich in volcanic rocks such as green tuff, andesite, diorite and basalt, indicating the intensity of past volcanic activity. It is known as a “volcano museum”. The therapy roads often take you to vantage points where you may find a sea of clouds under your feet. The primeval forest of Shiga Kogen also has circular loops around emerald lakes reflecting the forest green.
We hope this article inspired you to go out and spend some time in nature. As part of our project we are identifying and marking healing forests around the world. Quiet spaces in nature that one can visit without feeling unsafe. You can check out the map so far and even recommend a nature trail to be added to this map.
If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to our monthly blog posts here. We are a small group of friends trying to help people reconnect with nature. Our aim is simple. Helping people heal. Helping forests heal. To know more about us and join us as a fellow volunteer visit this link.
As the year turns, here’s a story from the deep Amazon forest that brings us some old wisdom to create a new vision. This post is for the seeker in all of us.
We live in an age of information, mis-information and information overload. There are times when this can lead to confusion and lack of clarity. One may often find the mind caught in a whirlpool of troubled thoughts and unable to create a vision for our lives.
Can the forests show us a way out and help us in finding answers to important questions in life?
Lessons from the Amazon
The Achuar are a group of indigenous people of the Amazon Basin, currently numbering around 6,000. Their ancestral lands – nearly 2 million acres in all – straddle the modern borders of Ecuador and Peru, a remote area that has allowed them to preserve their way of life with little outside influence or colonization.
The wise elders and shamans of the Achuar have always relied on their ability to engage with nature to create a vision for their lives. This interaction with their environment plays a mysterious role in guiding their actions and influencing their decisions.
Here’s a short film on the uncommon wisdom of this enchanted world.
The shamans know that being in nature can give us a larger perspective of life. To solve our problems we must begin by asking the right questions rather than simply seeking answers.
Connecting with nature helps us get our priorities right. It makes us focus on things which are important and those who really matter. This results in a better way to evaluate our choices and leads to better decision making.
On a more practical note spending time in nature can help in calming us. The act of interacting with the outdoors, brings our awareness to the present moment. Our mind gets a much deserved rest so that it can apply itself with renewed energy and come up with surprisingly creative solutions.
The vision always comes from soul, and soul is an aspect of nature. If the vision is true and we embody it well, we embody our place in the more-than-human world. Doing so always serves the greater web of life. ~Bill Plotkin
Here’s an interesting example of how the Achuar have developed a new vision for their forests.
Since the early 20th century, individuals and corporations from the so-called “modern” world have sought to exploit Achuar land for its oil, disregarding its irreplaceable ecological and cultural wealth.
By the early 1990s, Achuar shamans and elders were having dreams of an imminent threat to their land and traditional way of life. From contact with neighbouring tribes, the Achuar knew that oil companies were poisoning the rainforest and steadily moving closer and closer to their areas.
The Achuar have found a bold solution to this threat. They have sought alliances with the world outside their forest. Partnering with environmentally conscious organisations, they have fought a long battle to protect the forests they call home. These initiatives have been successful in creating delay and in many cases holding back the damaging actions of the oil companies.
The Achuars and their alliances are finding new answers to these difficult challenges. By choosing to guard their precious forests instead of giving in, they are inspiring us with their wisdom and courage. The future is always uncertain but if our vision is strong, our path becomes clear.
This month we touch upon the growing issue of loneliness. Even though the world is more connected than ever, we find a great number of people experiencing a sense of isolation and disconnect from others. Can the forests teach us how to avoid loneliness and in difficult times, overcome it?
To find the answer, we take a journey into Canada’s Forests. Canada is the second largest country in the world. It’s forests and other wooded lands make up 40% of its 979 million hectares. Canada’s forest cover represents 10% of the entire world’s forest cover.
In Canada lives a wise professor who has been studying trees and forests for years. Her research has given us some interesting findings. Watch this short Ted Talk by Suzanne Simard to know more.
Suzanne Simard is a professor of forest ecology and teaches at the University of British Columbia. She is best known for her work on how trees communicate with other trees.
Forests are built on relationships ~Suzanne Simard
The forest cure for loneliness
The best antidote for loneliness is meaningful relationships. Which includes and begins with examining the relationship we have with ourselves.
Most people think about creating relationships with people who are like them or with people who they like, but the forests teach us that relationships are built on giving. The action of giving opens the door for receiving.
The trees in the forest feed the fungi networks with food, while the fungi supply the trees with vital nutrients which are difficult to access. As the bond deepens, the fungi are able to spread and connect to other trees forming a large network of interconnected trees. This beautiful example from nature can teach us an important lesson. The act of giving starts the process of connecting with others and bridges the way for reaching out to people who can give back to you.
Sometimes, building relationships with other people is not easy and requires a lot of effort and practice. Here’s a helpful tip. Creating a connection with plants, trees and forests is simple and can be a healing exercise. They can teach us a lot about relationships and also take away our loneliness. Once we begin to explore and learn this dance of giving and receiving we come to realise that we share a relationship with everything. Not just with other people, but also with animals, trees and nature.
With enough practise, we can become like the mother trees which give far more than they receive, especially to those in need. Sharing our personal gifts to reach out and help take away the loneliness in others.
To start off on this journey, here’s a quick recap of 4 take-aways from Suzzane Simard’s talk.
Go connect with the forests. Build a relationship with them.
Learn how they work. Learn what they have to teach.
Protect the forests. They can’t defend themselves from humans.
The forests are worth saving, because you are worth saving. Use your own links to spread the word.
Forests aren’t just a bunch of trees competing with each other, they’re super cooperators. ~ Suzanne Simard
Questions for reflection
What are we receiving and what are we giving back to the relationships in our lives?
How do we create a better relationship with ourselves and others?
And while you ponder on these questions do enjoy this beautiful video from the forests of Banff National Park in Canada. In the filmmaker’s words – “It is another one of the magical Wildlands of our planet. A place where you can truly experience the strong connection between humans and nature. It’s difficult not to be fully aware of your existence when you are walking through the Rocky Mountains of Canada. Exploring the Wildland of Banff is a life changing experience.”
Time-lapse Photography: Enrique Pacheco (enriquepacheco.com)
Original Score: Peter Nanasi (peternanasi.com)
END NOTE: Do add your thoughts, stories and reflections in the comment box. It will help us learn from each other.
If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to our monthly blog posts here. We are a small group of friends trying to help people reconnect with nature. To know more about us and join us as a fellow volunteer visit this link.
This month’s story is about an unusual lady called “the queen of canopy research”. World renowned biologist Nalini Nadkarni pioneered the use of mountain climbing equipment to assist her climbs of Costa Rican rain forest canopies in the early 1980’s. Years of research, countless ascends (on four different continents) came to an abrupt halt during a normal afternoon 50 feet above ground in the Olympic National Park, Washington (America). Nalini eloquently describes her near death fall and offers some insight into a life altering, meaningful disturbance.
Production vitabrevisfilms.com + videowest.kuer.org
Directed by: Skylar Nielsen | Interview: Doug Fabrizio
Forest Healing from Accidents, Injury and Surgery
There have been multiple studies on the link between the mind and the body and how a calm and healthy mind boosts one’s immunity and helps the body recover faster from illness and injury.
People who are recovering from an accident, injury or operation have to go through a testing time. Simple tasks which were easy to do earlier can take up a lot of effort and also require assistance. Beyond the physical difficulties, most people also face a host of mental challenges. Sadness, anger and anxiety about their present condition can change their outlook to life as well as affect their behaviour.
Therefore it becomes very important to supplement their physical therapy with a more holistic approach to their problems. Something that can help them find answers to unsolved questions in their mind. And forests serve as friends to give comfort and hold space for connecting with something deeper so that the process of healing can begin.
Richard Mitchell, an epidemiologist at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, did a large study that found less disease in people who lived near parks or other green spaces. Compared with people who have lousy window views, those who can see trees and grass have been shown to recover faster in hospitals, perform better in school, and even display less violent behaviour. *Source
TIP: So if you know someone recovering from an accident, injury or surgery ask them to spend a little time in nature. It will help them find the connection that triggers faster healing and reduces the recovery time.
ABOUT DR. NALINI
Dr. Nalini is an exceptional scientist whose work has challenged our perspective on trees and prisons. Nalini Nadkarni explores the rich, vital world found in the tops of trees. She communicates what she finds to non-scientists — with the help of poets, preachers and prisoners. See a short TED talk on her work here:
“The web of social relationships is essential for our health”
We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any suggestions or stories of healing from nature do write to us at healingforest(dot)org(at)gmail(dot)com
Healing Forest is a project to help people reconnect with nature and build a community of friends who have a deep connection with forests. Our aim is simple. Helping people heal. Helping forests heal.