Thursday, May 10, 2018

Mental Health...Outdoors

Image result for forest bathing how trees can help you find health and happiness

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,[j] or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?

  28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 

 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and hiS righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:25-34

This morning I stepped onto our deck to survey our raised vegetable beds. Despite a miserable April our Fall-planted garlic is up several inches and the lettuce, chard, kale and onions are all visible in their satisfying rows. It's raining but that's good. Those plants are being nourished and our rain barrels are filling again.

This is Mental Health Awareness Week and lots is being written about what keeps our minds and spirits healthy. One of the keys to mental health is getting outside, or even having a view of landscape. A study has shown that hospital rooms with a view of trees leads to faster recovery. The south-facing rooms at Belleville hospital give a wonderful vista of the trees along the waterfront trail and the Bay of Quinte. As a pastoral visitor I would have a sense of wellbeing surveying the sweep of the bay.

I'm currently reading a book called Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness by Dr. Qing Li, chairman of the Japanese Society for Forest Medicine. In the past year there has a plethora of articles about this practice called Shinrin Yoku in Japan. It is actually state sponsored, part of the healthcare plan in the country. Japan is one of the most urban and noisy countries on the planet but the government has established state forests with clinics to take advantage of the healing power of being out-of-doors.

My own experience is that I am healthiest in every way when I get outside regularly. Our three young grandchildren thrive out-of-doors.

Jesus encouraged us to consider the birds and the flowers to address our worries and anxieties. In an increasingly indoor lifestyle, let's be "outsiders!"



Lori Graham said...

There is nothing better than a walk through nature, either through a forest or along a lake shore or creek. It is as much the sound as the sights. I often find myself struck by the soundscape as much as by the landscape. Sometimes I am aware that just for a second I hear everything with unexpected exquisiteness as if I am hovering somewhere outside of and above the earth; and, this for some reason makes me feel like I am experiencing timelessness. I have wondered if this is the reason why I am so attracted to nature - if it is linked with an escape from our usual perceptions of time and space, and the sense of being excused temporarily from the body's usual experience of time as finite.

David Mundy said...

I figure humans are wired for transcendence. We may experience this in a constructed worship space "sanctuary." Or the sanctuary may be open to the sky filled with the "music of the spheres." Both can be good for the soul. Thanks Lori.

roger said...

Working in Toronto, there's nothing I enjoy more than a trip to Prince Edward County on the weekends. If I can't do that, then my backyard will do.

One of the things I love about NYC is Central Park, and how you can go from cheer insanity at Times Square to incredible tranquility just a few minutes later.