"The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach." Henry Beston
I live in a wonderful place where I am fortunate enough to be able to visit the woods and the ocean whenever I want. Last week was busy and I was feeling that great weight that sometimes looms over all of us bearing down on my shoulders. I wasn't sleeping well, I was finding it hard to relax and I just couldn't shake that closed in feeling that comes when winter is on the way out. It just so happened that it was 50 degrees (in February!) and I knew that a walk by the ocean was just what I needed. I could hear the pounding waves through the woods and followed that sound through a small, winding path that I hadn't taken before. As the sound got louder and louder, I could feel the weight lift, my mind was quiet and I was finally where I was supposed to be. The smell of the forest mixed with the ocean air was like medicine for the soul. Once I got to the water, I found a rock to sit on right near the crashing waves, and just watched. Watched and listen. I watched the waves starting far out in the sea and get bigger as they approached the shore. I listened to the thundering crash of the waves as they hit the rocks in front of me. I heard the seagulls, the bells on the bouys, a ship's horn. Most of all, I could feel the energy of that place surround me and take my cares away.
What makes the ocean and the forest so healing? Sea air is charged with healthy negative ions that allows our body to absorb more oxygen. Walking barefoot on the sand neutralizes the impact of free radicals in our body. The sand contains minerals that we need and induces physiological changes that boosts our immune system, reduces inflammation, and promotes good health. The use of modern technology (laptops, cell phones, microwaves, etc.), has exposed us to free radicals, eroding our body's natural energy. Spending time by the ocean can energize and relax us at the same time.
How about the forest? Walking in the woods can actually lower cortisol, a stress hormone, along with blood pressure and heart rate. It can also boost the immune system by increasing anti-cancer proteins and the activity of certain cancer-fighting cells. Surround yourself with trees, breathe deep and feel grounded. The Japanese have a word for this feeling - shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing.
Whether you live near the ocean or the woods, finding a place where the air is clean and your surroundings are calming and natural will have such a benefit on your health, mental and physical. There is always time to be outside and always time to find our place in nature. No matter how busy we are or even if we have to drive to get there, find the place that makes the mind relax, the body breathe and the soul sing!