In counseling, I try to help each patient turn their life around from fear and worry to courage and compassion.
Metanoia is not a psychological term, but a spiritual focus that says that there are within each of us two souls, a little soul and a great soul. On any given day we tend to identify more with one or the other of these and we are a very different person depending upon which soul is growing within us.
Thus, if we take our identity from our little soul we will inevitably feel bitter and angry. It is the little soul, where we are petty, afraid, aware of our hurts, and constantly nursing the sense of having been cheated and short-changed. In our little soul, we are paranoid and defensive. When we relate to life through it, we become shortsighted, impatient, despairing, and constantly looking for compensation.
But we also have within us a great soul. When we let it grow, we become a different person altogether. We relate out of our great soul when we are overwhelmed by compassion, when everyone is sister or brother to us, when we want to give of ourselves without concern of cost, when we would willingly die for others, and when our arms and heart would want nothing other than to embrace the whole world and everyone in it.
I witnessed this “great soul” of compassion whenever a patient learns to surrender their addiction, or change their self-destructive behaviors or accepts that we are not in control of anyone. This is the great soul that grows within each one of us.
Let me reassure you that it takes courage to talk with someone about our trails and troubles. Please know that my counseling is open to anyone in search of a helping hand with ears to listen with compassion to your hurts and fears and a voice that brings comfort, wisdom and hope.
Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Researchers primarily in Japan and South Korea have established a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest. Now their research is helping to establish shinrin-yoku and forest therapy throughout the world.
The idea is simple: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved.
We have always known this intuitively. But in the past several decades there have been many scientific studies that are demonstrating the mechanisms behind the healing effects of simply being in wild and natural areas. For example, many trees give off organic compounds that support our “NK” (natural killer) cells that are part of our immune system’s way of fighting cancer.
The scientifically-proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku include:
- Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body’s Natural Killer (NK) cells.
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced stress
- Improved mood
- Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
- Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
- Increased energy level
- Improved sleep
Just as impressive are the results that we are experiencing as we make this part of our regular practice:
- Deeper and clearer intuition
- Increased flow of energy
- Increased capacity to communicate with the land and its species
- Increased flow of eros/life force
- Deepening of friendships
- Overall increase in sense of happiness
We recognize that forest therapy approaches such as Shinrin-yoku have roots in many cultures throughout history. John Muir wrote, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home. Wilderness is a necessity.” The photos are a forest I visit often for your enjoyment. Click below and enjoy a few minutes of quiet peace and calm.