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joy journals

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

In this week’s blog I’m going to share three of my favourite activities to help you slow your roll so that you can live more joyfully in the present moment.

You may already be familiar with some of these practices, however, others may be new to you. My intention is to provide you with a gentle reminder of the importance of slowing down, being present, taking it all in, moment by moment without judgement.  Just being.

One of my favourite activities is to walk near a water source, like a river or a beach.  The sounds of the water and the positive ions which are released into the air have a way of slowing you down while purifying you at the same time.

Person standing on a beach looking at the ocean waves

I am so fortunate to live on Vancouver Island where I can see the ocean and walk along or sit beside it anytime I want.  But if you don’t, try having a warm salt bath and let the water do its magic.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly you begin to breathe more deeply and let your mind ease into your heart. Just let it go and be present with the sounds, the smells and the sights around you.

Another great way to slow down and allow yourself to be present is by engaging in a walking meditation around a labyrinth. In fact, according to research conducted at the Harvard Medical School’s Mind/Body Medical Institute by Dr. Herbert Benson, the many benefits of this practice include reduced anxiety, lowered blood pressure, reduced incidents of chronic pain, reduction in insomnia, improved fertility, and many other benefits.

A labrynth

I am blessed to have a labyrinth close-by in a community park, but if you don’t have one near you, why not create your own?  There are some great online resources for information about labyrinths and even how to make your own.  Here’s one source I ran across from the Labryinth Company.

And finally, one of the most healing practices that I’ve found to bring a plethora of benefits is called Shinrin-yoku or Forest Bathing or Forest Therapy as it is better known in the west.

Originated in Japan, a country with an abundance of forests, this powerful practice has been proven to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness and free up creativity, as well as lower heart rate and blood pressure, boost the immune system and accelerate recovery from illness.

oung woman in forest looking up

You can do this in a group with a forest bathing guide or on your own.  It’s about walking slowly (it’s not a hike!) and letting all your senses come alive.  Breathing deeply.  Being present. This is another one of my blessings that I’m surrounded by so many trees and forests where I live. My favourite place to go is Cathedral Grove in the MacMillan Provincial Park and only about 30 minutes from me.

This magical place is a remnant from an ancient Douglas fir ecosystem with some trees dating back 800 years and measuring 250 ft. high and about 29 ft. around in circumference. To be surrounded by their energy is breathtaking.  I remember the last time I was there, I had decided to go just out of the blue.  It was a busy time for me, and I was in go-go-go mode.  But as soon as I stepped into the forest, something transformative happened.  I immediately slowed down.  It just happened.  I didn’t make it happen!

My pace shortened, I was quiet.  I listened to the birds and the wind.  I breathed deeply.  I sat and just observed.   By adopting the pace of nature, like Emerson suggested, I was free to connect with my spirit in a way that was deep and profound.  I was present and “being” in the high vibration of joy for that hour and it was delicious!

If you want to know more about Forest Bathing, a great book is by Dr. Qing Li called Forest Bathing.  It includes some lovely pictures and has great resource information on things you can do at home to bring the forest to you if you can’t get out to the forest.  I learned a lot and have already adopted many of the ideas from this little treasure.

I hope you’ll incorporate a few of these activities into your daily practice of being joy.  Your life will be better for it!

Love from your Joy Mama

Gloria Stewart signature

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