Have you heard of the Japanese therapy called forest bathing? Forest bathing (spending time in the forest) can ease stress, make us happier, boost our immune systems, spike our creativity, and, oh, so much more. But there’s something even better than forest bathing, far more rejuvenating. The ultimate bliss, at least in my opinion, comes from not bathing in the woods, but exercising.
If you ever rode a bicycle like it was our car, you may have loved the moving scenery, the passing trees, even being in the midst of traffic. But the moving scenery in the woods is a hundred times more exhilarating. And you don’t necessarily need to be in a forest; a heavily wooded area, preferably with varying slopes, will do.
While jogging in the woods, lungs fill up with fresh air and scents of cedar and pine. Find a heavily populated span of pine trees and it’s good to rush over there to exercise the abdominal muscles. Breathe in the rich sugary sweetness, the honey-like succulence, of pine scents, scents that may have never been truly savored before. When experiencing that intensity of real pine for the first time, our bodies can tingle, like children eating their first gumdrops.
When training outdoors, choirs of birds’ chirps echo throughout the woods, their songs so delightful they warm the heart. We might even wonder if the chirps are somehow tied to us, at least in the birds’ conscious awareness of our presence. And if we have the ability to whistle, we, too, may join their choir.
If snow fills the terrain, we can do ab work on the dry grass under a tree. And, oh, do trees give off a beautiful vibe, something we may not be expecting. Looking up at a tree, as we exercise our abs, we see the pine leaves and branches almost reaching out to us, eagerly seeking our carbon dioxide breath, which trees love. In those moments, we are no longer separate from the tree, we are one with nature. Doing abs under a tree feels like being wrapped in the blanket of the tree’s branch-like arms.
As well, the vitamin D from the sunshine nourishes, protecting us from diseases such as breast cancer or the flu. And the sunlight lifts the spirit, freeing our minds from every trouble.
After running and doing abs and calisthenics for forty minutes, we can wind down with a stretch. Stretch under the woods to feel the bond, again, with the trees. Your endorphins, at this point, should be peaking.
Follow up the stretch with the most delicious part, a ten-minute meditation. While meditating, mentally list off everyone we ever met, sending them love, whether they are friends, family, or foes. The high we feel from the endorphins released on the run, combined with this spiritual meditation, make for an ecstatic finale. This finale feels like existing with one foot inside heaven, the other on earth. Also, the body feels like the soul has expanded, so much so, that we are no longer physical beings, we are pure spirit.
And, oh, does food afterward taste terrific. A bite of baked yam wedges, doused in ketchup, ignites fireworks of endorphins. A tiny sip of espresso coffee, just a taste, feels like the earth has moved, like an euphoric earthquake. A bite of dark chocolate tastes like an explosion of love gliding through our stomachs. I swear, food never before tasted so delicious.
When returning home, top the thrill with an ice-cold shower, which further expands the soul, separating the soul from the body, as our bodies lap up the icy water’s health benefits. After the shower, put on a warm, fluffy sweater, and lie down for an elated nap. Goodnight, my nature loving friends. May exercise in the woods usher us to a state of bliss.