A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting the filmmaker Nitin Das. Nitin is the creator of the Healing Forest, a site dedicated to helping people connect with nature and lead calmer, healthier lives.
Nitin was traveling through the U.S. to meet and interview people who were also interested in nature practices. Nitin and I met up in New York City to discuss the challenges and benefits of connecting to nature in urban spaces. I described my view that many New Yorkers believe that nature isn’t here or that it doesn’t “count.” We had conversations about our shared interest in shinrin-yoku (the Japanese art of “forest bathing”) and how these ideas might interest pragmatic city-dwellers.
Nitin’s new short film, How Forests Heal People, is the outcome of his travels in the U.S. It’s a beautiful meditative film about how nature affects us. (You can glimpse me birdwatching in Prospect Park.)
Experiment with a City Nature Break
This week I encourage you to take a 20-minute solo nature break and see if it improves your mood. Here are a few ideas:
- Find a quiet green spot like a garden, a remote area in a large park, a hidden pocket park, or even a roof space
- For 20 minutes, pay close attention to the plants, animals, insects, clouds
- If you find your mind wandering back to your To Do list, use your powers of concentration to focus on the non-human
- If you feel impatient or bored, try to slow down and look more carefully
- Turn your phone off for this experiment
How do you feel after this nature break? Do you feel calmer or more focused? Do you feel differently? Let me know how it goes.