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March 31, 2016

Forest Day should be Every Day: Rediscovering our Deep-Rooted Connection.

IGOR TREPESHCHENOK/Barn Images

International Forest Day arrived and slipped away silently and I felt compelled to help raise awareness of these beautiful and sacred life-giving spaces—our enchanting forests.

My love affair with trees began in childhood. Climbing up into the welcoming arms of the silver birch in our back garden was probably my earliest powerful “connection” with nature as a child. The trees gifted me freedom—the higher I climbed, the more free I became. Nestled on my favourite branch, I felt safe and nurtured in the arms of the graceful tree. When she swayed, I swayed with her and we became one. She cradled me with love.

That deep love and intimate connection with trees has never left me, in fact it has grown deeper and more powerful over the years.

Sadly, today we lack an intimacy with the natural world.

In our increasingly busy world of technology we tend to lose sight of the small things in life. We rarely take time to connect to nature. And yet we are nature, we depend on her to survive, she is the source of our food, our water, our air.

Could our disconnection be the source of our discontent?

Our health is linked to the health of the environment we live in. We find a constant source of health and happiness through nature when we understand our connection.

Forests are vital to the survival and well-being of people everywhere.

A shelter for people.

A habitat to biodiversity.

A source of food, medicine and clean water.

A vital role in maintaining a stable global climate and environment.

A place of beauty and sanctuary – a spiritual and healing place.

Part of my work as a nature educator is helping adults to rekindle that love affair with nature that has been lost and bringing harmony and balance back into their lives. And one of the simplest ways to begin nurturing a deep love and respect for the natural world is to take a walk in the woods.

Spending time around trees and looking at trees reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and improves mood. Time in nature opens our hearts and makes us realise we are part of it too. Walking is ancient and part of what makes us human. As humans, we have evolved in nature and our forests are calling us home.

When we spend time in nature, our brain behaves differently and so too do our hearts and spirit. When I walk into the forest, I have arrived home. There is a sense of freedom we feel when out walking quenches our soul.

Excerpt from my nature journal:

As I walk barefoot in the little forest where I run my nature classes, I feel an incredible connection with my surroundings. My senses come alive. The scattered pine needles on the dry earth tickle my feet. My step is slow, covering the ground gently, wanting to feel every texture and life force. Ants and spiders scurry across my path. The earth is dusty and warm and I feel the gentle pulse of Mother Earth beneath me. I feel so alive.

Time does not exist in nature. I am free to stop and listen to the glorious birdsong. 

Looking up, I am in awe of the morning glow from the wild honeysuckle. 

My spirit dances in the glory of Mother Nature’s enchanting beauty. 

Like a mother’s gentle arms, the warm, pine-scented summer breeze wraps her love around me and whispers sweet poetry. Sunbeams kiss my face and my heart fills up with love on this beautiful, sacred morning.

When I begin each day spiritually connected to all life, I feel enriched and full of love and gratitude, which I wish to share with everyone.

Helping adults rekindle their own personal connection with nature is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. We begin our collective journey by sharing a walk after reflecting on this beautiful Navajo prayer.

To walk in beauty means to walk in harmony with all living things. To witness the one-in-all, and the all-in-one.

In beauty may you walk

In beauty may I walk
All day long may I walk
Through the returning seasons may I walk
Beautifully will I possess again
Beautifully birds,
Beautifully joyful birds
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk
With dew about my feet may I walk
With beauty may I walk
With beauty before me may I walk
With beauty behind me may I walk
With beauty above me may I walk
With beauty all around me may I walk
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.

~ Navajo prayer

Discover the healing powers of nature for yourself.

Today I invite you to take a mindful walk in nature. Our first step on this beautiful journey together is to identify ourselves as part of nature.

Finding a quiet natural space to walk can be challenging in the busy, noisy city. Try to find a park or wooded area or visit your nearest forest. Ultimately, the wilder the nature, the better.

“Walking is a way of waking up to the wonderful moment we are living in. With that correct understanding, with that meditative thought, you will achieve blissful steps on this planet earth.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

When you enter the woods allow yourself to relax with each step. Take a deep breath and release your breath slowly.  Let your shoulders drop and inhale deeply.

Breathe in the abundant beauty of life about you. Each step is peace and joy. That is why we don’t have to hurry, we slow down as we walk.

Feel the wind in your hair, the quenching rain on your face. Let the sunbeams warm your heart as you walk.

Look around and observe the trees. Which one is whispering your name? Reach out and touch the bark of the tree, hug her tightly and feel her energy flow through you.

Let the angelic bird song sing to your soul. The sounds in nature are pure and soft, let them soften your heart. Even a noisy woodpecker can melt into your being and bring great joy.

Wild flowers smile with you as you pass, making you smile too. The unconditional love is abundant and pure: let it seep into your whole being.

As we walk we begin to remember and know ourselves, where we are, what we are part of.

Breathe in the sweet fragrant scents and listen to the whispering winds, know you are deeply rooted to the trees and the rich earth you walk upon… with each step you walk in harmony and loving balance with all you see, touch and hear.

We are one.

“We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees.” ~ Chief Edward Moody, Qwatsinas, Nuxalk Nation

Please join me in celebrating Forest Day every day; Earth day, every day; Tree day, every day.

Let’s celebrate our oneness each and every day.

~

Author: Marghanita Hughes

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: Igor Trepeschenok/Barn images

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Marghanita Hughes

Marghanita Hughes is the founder of the non-profit organizaion Let’s Go Outside Revolution and author of Actively Engaging Children with Nature and countless children’s picture books focusing on nature. She is an ECE workshop presenter and director of Outside with Marghanita. She has presented both nationally and internationally as keynote speaker and presented for diverse audiences in Edinburgh, Scotland and London, UK, including the Nature Education Conference, New Zealand and The Manitoba Nature Conference, Canada. An energetic and passionate presenter, Marghanita brings her wealth of knowledge on how to actively engage children with nature through art. Gifting a sense of wonder and creativity, Marghanita is an inspirational voice in the children and nature and art movement. Marghanita runs outdoor nature classes for young children throughout the year and is a member of ARTSTARTS in Schools and the ambassador for the Creative Peace Movement  in Canada. Marghanita welcomes you to e-mail her for additional elephant illustrations.