Recently I have begun to walk in the wood to destress myself and I think that you should do it too. As humans, we have an unfortunate tendency to focus exclusively on what’s wrong. We brood and circle around our worries. We go deeper into the dark and sunken places of our own minds and lose touch with the more cheerful parts of who we are.
When going on walks in the woods we begin to see how lovely the light is; how it’s broken and softened by the branches and leaves. We start noticing the little details: a squirrel running up the trunk of a tree, a bird flitting between branches. We begin to see how different kinds of leaves are.
When we start to pay attention, the world opens up to us: an ant is starting an adventure along a twig; a butterfly is opening its wings for the first time; a caterpillar is on it’s way to lunch on the far side of a leaf. We see beyond ourselves and become absorbed in contemplating the separate order of nature.
We can never see more than a few steps ahead. We don’t quite know what we’ll see when we turn the next corner. Maybe we’ll come to a clearing or a rabbit chilling – but we’re sure it will be something interesting. It’s an exercise that gently activates our curiosity. We start to wonder: How did a friend’s job interview go? What was the name of that novel a friend of mine talked about?
It’s not that solving our problems isn’t helpful. It’s rather that they dominate our minds in an unhelpful way. Our sense of life, and who we are, shrinks to accommodate their size. By getting interested in something else – the woods – we free ourselves from the problems, even if it is only for a little while.