August brought us to Mexico, where we visited family, enjoyed the calm of Cuernavaca, and climbed a steep mountain to an ancient Aztec pyramid. The days away reminded me of the value of slowing down and getting back into this body that for so long seemed to exist only as a vehicle for my head.
This morning, an old friend introduced me to a new word, shinrinyoku <span >(森 林浴) or “forest bathing.” It is a Japanese word that refers to the process of going deep into the forest to relax. I think the concept can be broadened to apply to many kinds of immersion in nature—hiking, surfing, skiing--or simply even standing at the edge of the land, breathing the onshore wind.
In Mexico and all over the world, ordinary people do this, often without special gear or expensive lift tickets. In Tepoztlan, we saw grandmas in print dresses and gentlemen in loafers climbing to the ancient site. Of course, I felt good in my hemp t-shirt and shorts, appreciating (as I broke into jungle sweat) their lightness and wicking capabilities. By the time I arrived at the restaurant at the bottom of the hill, I was dry—just in time for the best margarita I’ve ever tasted.
So I raise a glass to August, and the lesson of shinrinyoku I learned this month.
We look forward to September, when we’ll be attending a couple of inspiring festivals closer to home:
The Los Angeles Green Festival, September 16th-18th.