Sole to Soul
By Chris Cohan
“Far from the Maddening Crowd” is a tiny twist on a novel/film title which I think sums up many peoples’ thirst for space, freedom, and tranquility. Away from the maddening crowds and constant bombardment of calls, texts, and emails the woods are a wonderful place to observe nature’s lessons. A true mind/body/soul connection comes from a quiet walk in the woods.
Walking helps many mortals think and sort out problems. A short trip of discovery. In the end, resolution? Oftentimes yes. Other times just good old-fashioned exercise while building an appetite for the next meal. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Walking meditation is great; you get into a rhythm, obtain a sense of calmness. Your state of mind will dictate speed. Faster when anxious, slower when calm. Your pace will vary as your thoughts change, too. Stepping away from the familiar will help your mind wander, relax, and just enjoy the surroundings and the moment.
Japan has 48 official Forest Therapy trails. Scientific studies have shown the increased benefits that forest walks provide compared to urban strolls, notably lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart rate. Psychologically, they lower anxiety, which leads to happier moods. According to Yoshifumi Miyazaki, an environmental health scientist, “Because humans evolved in nature, it’s where we feel most comfortable, even if we don’t know it.”
When you walk, millions of cells in your body must coordinate to propel you along the ground. Everything must cooperate, from your eyes to your toes. Your calves act as pumps, pushing blood back to your heart. The synergistic effect walking has on your cells helps create an atmosphere of normalcy, health, and cooperation.
Now that’s worth a walk in the woods. Lace up your shoes, put your soles in motion, and awaken your soul.