Have you heard of forest bathing? Have you ever wondered why its called forest bathing!

I was in Epping forest recently with my husband. As we walked I started noticing patterns on the tree trunks made by the sunlight filtering through the leaves.

holly leaves shadow

I remembered the Japanese word Komorebi. A very rough translation could be ko – it can mean light it is also the kanji for a tree – 木. More can mean to leak out, filter or come through.  And bi,  日 is the kanji for day or sunlight. Bringing it all together, can help us arrive at the common rough translation of komorebi: “sunlight shining through the trees”.

After a while we sat on a fallen tree trunk for some rest and refreshment. We were surrounded by many trees. I could recognise holly, beech, oak and hornbeam.

light shadow on tree trunk

With a gentle breeze, the patterns of light started to move. All of a sudden I could see light dancing on the tree trunks. There was no water around. But it felt as if I was in a deep pool of water, surrounded by ripples. The elements of light and air had come together to help create the feeling of being in water on Earth. In that moment I felt I could start to understand the term forest bathing, the Japanese practice Shin Rin Yoku. I felt that this ripple effect must be happening in my body too but I could not see it in myself. The trees were helping me to see it, they were showing it to me. It was easier to see it on the trees. I had not experienced the dance of light and shade like this before. It felt magical.

I wanted to share this numinous experience with the help of a Mary Oliver poem, and then I found two:

How I go to the wood

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.”

~ from “Praying,”

…Just pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

My doorway into thanks for Reiki and the innumerable ways it has enriched my life. For inspiring deep appreciation of other Japanese practices like Forest bathing – also called Shin Rin Yoku; Zen brushwork, also called – Hitsuzendo.  I feel thankful for the Reiki principles – the spiritual teachings of Reiki, especially for ‘Show gratitude to every living thing’, inspiring a deep appreciation of nature. I feel thankful for all my teachers.

I feel thankful to my husband for accompanying me on walks and letting me dawdle and pray as if I was by myself. And finally here is a video of the light dancing and rippling through the trees.