I could not wait to drive out of the city yesterday and left Perth around 3 pm. Much to my dismay construction has devoured a portion of the road I usually take to the highway and I spent half an hour travelling through the detour. I finally got back on the highway and caught slow traffic. The drive at dusk kept me alert but what was amazing was the skyline. The area had controlled burning earlier in the day and the colours across the horizon was nothing I’ve seen before. There were heavy low clouds in colours of mauve, taupe, lavender, pink, orange, and umber even. As it was getting darker by the minute I could not stop for photographs and night came too suddenly. I started to get anxious enough to turn off the music and focus on my driving. Albany Highway is not a road I enjoy driving. It is littered with roadside crosses, a sombre reminder of the dangers of a narrow, winding road. I was hoping roadworks at the entry to the small farming town of Williams had been cleared but no, the roads are still ripped up. I drove in cautiously and then had another 30 kms or so of dark road flanked by farms before I got to my destination. I was so tense by the time I got to my hotel. I had a shower and went to bed without dinner and slept fitfully. The sunrise was glorious. I sipped coffee while tucked in bed and watched the sun melt the meringue mist that hung over the town. I still felt exhausted and unwell and wondered how I was going to function in a day that was fully booked. Then I remembered reading an article on a flight about ‘forest bathing’, a Japanese therapy, Shinrin-yoku, that developed in the 1980s when people were dying from working too hard. The concept is simple as it is complex. Essentially one is among trees, among nature, in a mindful way. I decided to try it. It was cold this morning so I dressed in layers and headed to Foxes Lair.The reserve is lush in winter green. It was quiet and I was the only one walking around. My steps were slow. My movements slower. I took it all in. The kookaburras chortle grew more distant as I walked away from it. The parrots flew in and when they left, the honeyeaters and silvereye swarmed high above my head. I wanted to do nothing but just absorb the energy of the moment. I walked around for half an hour. I was rejuvenated and renewed. I returned to my hotel, completed half a report and then headed to work.
I have worked a whole day with barely a break and completed the report I started this morning. I cannot believe it was only yesterday morning I felt so depleted of energy,
Is there some truth in the benefits of Shinrin-yoku? All I can say, if you experience a flat spot, find a verdant corner somewhere and let your body drink it in, sip by delicate sip. I’d be interested to hear if it had the same positive impact on you as it had on me.
In response to RDP – Monday: Verdant