It is most certainly true that after several years of drought, the California landscape desperately needs the rain. It also can be said that time in the rain allows us to get close enough to our discomforts to create a different more empowering relationship with them. And yet, what I really want to share a focus on, is the actual pleasures we get to experience by being in the rain. As the rain comes down on one of my recent walks, these are just a few of the gifts my fellow forest bathers and I are able to receive. Definitely a deeply sensorial experience. I hope you'll enter into the experience with us. Come along...
SIGHT: There is delight in seeing all the new growth, both in terms of greenery and the numerous mushrooms in full blossom dotting the land. So many varieties and it's amazing to see the myriad surfaces upon which they grow and how they seem to appear overnight. The forest is encapsulated in a light mist of fog accompanying the rain which gives the surroundings a surreal and beautiful aura, with light dancing in the mist. That is accentuated by the sight of ones own breath wafting through the forest air. It's beautiful to watch the way the light is reflected off every glistening surface, and to watch the travel of individual raindrops, especially looking skyward to see them falling through the forest canopy and being able to watch as those drops gather and collect at the ends of every leaf or stem often creating kaleidoscopes of light.
SOUND: There is a different quality to sound in cold moist air, a sturdiness and crispness to that sound markedly different from a dry day. I remember with pleasure as a child always being fascinated by how differently I experienced sound in the winter. The rain on this day makes a gentle sound as it collides with the forest greenery and a pitter patter as the drops meet the earth. I can hear it close by as it drums meditatively against the jacket I am wearing. But it is not only these additional sounds, but rather all sound that has a novel quality that one can't experience without being in the forest on a rainy day.
TASTE: Taking in a breath through our mouths and the moisture in the air may bring a taste of the forest. Cetainly simply sticking out our tongues to catch a raindrop not only allows for the feel but also acquaints you with the fresh taste of the rain. Go ahead, give it a try right now.
TOUCH: There is the gentle feel of rain against your jacket to the gentle touch as it lands on our outstretched hands or our faces turned towards the heavens.
SMELL: The way smells are accentuated in the moist air, allows us to more fully inhale the gifts of the forest. We are better able to smell the sweet aroma of the trees or the moist soil. Our sense of smell is more closely related to memory than any other sense, with smells acting as triggers to recall memories. Smell also has a close link to our emotional centers. According to the website "Fifth Sense" people who have lost their sense of smell report feeling isolated and are at an increased risk of depression due to a diminished ability to form connections with others. While I don't know if increased sense of smell improves our emotions, I do know I feel an unexplained and personal sense of happiness as I breath in the moist forest air during or just after a rain. Checking in with others, I know I'm not alone. We feel that sense of peace, calm and happiness now, immersed in the experience that is permeating each cell of our bodies as we breath in the forest air.
OUR INNER SENSE: As we nourish and bathe our senses in the richness of nature, we feel a sense of peace and wonder in knowing the nourishment that the earth is receiving. Reminding us of the nourishment we would like to receive. I'm certainly not knocking a sunny day or advocating to not go out when the sun is shining. A sunny day has it own delights. And yet whatever the weather, there are numerous gifts the forest entreats us to explore. Don't let this season of rain keep you from experiencing the gifts of the present, for when summer returns, we'll have to wait till the next rainy season before we can share in these gifts again. So rain or shine, come join us in the forest as we reawaken our sense of play and we bathe in sensation with nature in the more than human world.
What do you enjoy about spending time in nature in the rain? Let us know in the comments section below.