What can we learn from forest bathing in the rain?
Heavy raindrops in the darkness of winter might seem dreary, but they are a doorway to healing nature spirits.
I sold several gift certificates around the holidays for my in-person guided mystic experiences — helping people connect to the unseen realm of nature. One client recently emailed me, “My gift idea was met with excitement and hesitation. One of the recipients doesn’t want to walk in the rain.”
This shocked me since I relish tromping through the forest on any occasion. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest with a special relationship with nature — especially the woods — my heart expands with the notion of spending time in the profoundly emotional setting of rain.
But, a glee with mud puddles and droplets careening off cedar leaves onto my nose might be an acquired taste. As I wrote in the last email, meeting nature where you are is more effective.
I’m not going to let this rest because there is no better time to commune with nature spirits than in the rain — when the unseen realm is effervescent. But, first, I just have to convince the skeptical.
Deep winter offers an extraordinary chance to experience the subtle and powerful beauty of percolating interdependence and expansion. And just as we work to arrive at the new year with goals, at a primal level, we also sense the movement of roots and bulbs under decaying leaves. If paying attention, we notice infant foliage begin to form on trees above.
If you are open to meeting nature where you are, you can take your intentions to the natural world. Let the tight green buds developing on a rhododendron symbolize hopes and dreams. May the lifeless stocks of summertime flowers remind you of things you want to stop doing. But, no matter the scenario, nature is all around to teach us how to usher in new growth.
And then, just add water!
Have you ever felt sadness lessened by a long walk on the beach? Do you fall asleep to the sound of rain droplets provided by a tranquility app on your phone? Humans are emotional creatures drawn to water.
So, why do some of us have such an aversion to getting wet? Heavy raindrops in the darkness of January might seem dreary, but they are a doorway to healing nature spirits.
How, then, do we meet the rain with exuberance versus dread? I suggest venturing into the forest, where heavy fir canopies can protect from the worst of the storm. Here, your heart expands like the prolific colors and textures of moss.
Open up emotion to the moment and allow the droplets to move you in new ways. Then, when a few beads sneak down the back of your neck, focus on how the shock enlightens your spirit. It might surprise you to notice a playful, childlike energy.
The water may reveal sadness deep within the layers of your soul, and those emotions could feel too heavy to bear. That’s okay. Just the awareness allows nature’s healing to begin. There is no need to “fix it” — just invite the spirits of the land to be present with you and see what happens.
No matter the emotion, water and nature can meet you where you are. And then, opportunities emerge from learning more about yourself in transformative ways. I’m developing a new series of writings that explain this in more detail. Stay tuned.
I want to help people feel more comfortable immersed in the exquisite wetness of the land. So, I created a valuable guide to soaking up nature’s essence — also known as forest bathing — in the rain. It touches upon reasons to engage the soulful canopy of trees while droplets release to the forest floor.
If you’re adverse to the wet and cold, begin with 15 minutes of looking out the window. Then, wear a protective coat and walk around the block in the rain. Put on boots and stomp through mud puddles along the way.
Push further and “dip the toe in the water” by sitting on a bench in a nearby park — preferably under tall trees. But, be sure to set up for success by dressing warmly.
If you already enjoy the soulful feel of rain against the forehead, push deeper into a rich forest bathing outing in a dense greenspace. For ideas, this new article lists my 27 favorite mystic forests in and around Seattle.
But if you’re away from the Seattle area, rest assured a forest near you is standing by to help.
If getting outside is impossible, you can still work with rain in winter by peering from a window — perhaps cracked open so the humid January air can flow paired with the smell of fresh precipitation.
No matter the circumstances, please consider the opportunities to engage in nature’s healing in the rain. In particular, the woods nearby, waiting to meet you.
What can the rain teach you about yourself?
Yours in rain or shine, Matthew