When I met my now husband he called me a Tree Hugger teasingly. I looked at him with my innocent blank faced and said “Yes! I LOVE hugging trees!” I had no idea the term was given to environmentalists at that time. To me it was pretty straight forward. Tree Huggers meant I hugged trees. Which I did, a lot.
It all started at camp in 7th grade. When we were getting a bit rowdy inside the dusty, wooden, stale smelling bunkhouse, we were given the punishment task of going outside and hugging the big tree in front of the cabin. The first time I was sent outside for being too loud I was reluctant. Being taken away from my friends and banished like the bad loud child was embarrassing. But the second I got outside in the fresh smelling early summer night air and wrapped my arms around that big old oak tree, pressing my face against its rough bark, I got a rush. I got a feeling of calm. I got a sensation of peace running through my tiny little seven year old body.
All the noise from inside felt so far away and I was not jealous or lonely at all! I was alive. I was centered. I was grounded! The thought ran through my mind that I wished I could sleep out there with the trees instead of inside with the noise and the smelly socks and spiders. I’m pretty sure I mis-behaved several times after that just so I could go outside and hug that tree!
Ever since then when I get overwhelmed and overdone by the inside noise of humanity, but the hum of the screens and the smell of the people, I feel the call of the trees. I must go outside. I must be out in the wide open oxygen rich world with the trees, the sky, the water, the birds, and the air. I close my eyes, take a big deep breath, and let the wonder of Mother Nature calm, balance, and center me.
I am now aware that the need to be outside every day is as critical to my overall well being as much as any other part of my basic self-care. It is a part of who I am. It is a huge part of what I need as a human being to stay well.
Studies are now showing that the air around forests is different than in the human buildings world. It is filled with all sorts of good tings that our bodies thrive on to live healthy and happy. The practice of “Tree Bathing” has started trending. Even natural playgrounds are making an appearance as we begin to recognize how important the natural world is to our well being in life.
Take your kids out to hug a tree today and while they are at it, join in! It just might re-fresh, re-new, and give you that sense of alive that it did all those years ago to a seven year old me who thought she was being “punished.”
- Jeannine Proulx
Author, Creative, Possibilities Life Coach, Supporter of Moms and Kids Everywhere,
and Founder of MindfulnessMothers.com
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