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Have you ever had a conversation with someone or read another person’s words and felt, “I’ve had that feeling or experience, but this person is articulating it so much better than me!”? Enter David Motzenbecker.
On page 22, I write about the practice of shinrin-yoku, also known as forest bathing. Through Minnetonka Community Education and his own business, Motzenbecker leads participants through meditative and therapeutic walks.
Motzenbecker says the practice has been transformative. “It has reminded me of my insignificance in the greater scheme of things,” he says. “How many years will I live—100 if I’m really lucky? One hundred years to a tree or a mountain or an ocean is a blink of an eye. I like to imagine what the 3,000-year-old redwoods have seen and experienced in their lifetimes. What is it like to be truly rooted to a place? How does your perspective change over that span of time? What is it like to nurture entire ecosystems?”
“I try to take those imaginings and translate them into my own lived experience,” Motzenbecker says. “What really matters? I watch how trees of many species exist harmoniously together in the forest, feeding and protecting and helping each other via their deeply intertwined root systems. It makes me wonder why can’t we do the same. Every time I’m in the forest, I feel my attitude shift toward one of gratefulness. I come out kinder, quieter, more contemplative, patient and less reactionary—something I’d love to see in all global citizens in this current era of hyper-divisiveness.”
Can you recall a time when you’ve felt intimately grounded in the natural world? What part of the outdoors brings you peace?
Until next time,
Renée Stewart-Hester, editor