A couple of weeks ago, my Tallest Friend Sam suggested we go for a walk in a forest. Both of us in need of a break from the city and some refreshing inspiration to get us going for the week to come, we found a cozy group of people and trekked to Dyrehaven, a "deer park" a bit north of Copenhagen at the train stop of Klampenborg.
Dyrehaven is a massive park that seemed like a vast, yet very open, labyrinth of trees and fields and muddy paths. It wasn't, by any means, a nice day to go for a walk outdoors - being a rather low temperature and shrouded with the grey skies we see so often in Denmark, it would have been a marvellous day to stay at home, snuggled up in bed, watching Netflix. But it didn't stop us from going. There was an eeriness to the weather, making the park even more of a mystery. It could have easily been the setting for a horror movie.
Each direction we went was a choice - either getting ourselves more lost in the nature or returning to a familiar place. The further we walked, the more compelling conversations we dove into and the further away from our busy lives we strolled.
Amongst the ominous and dried out winter woods, we saw many troops of deer. They were magnificent creatures - some with sturdy antlers practicing combat moves with one another, some peacefully grazing the fields. They seemed complacent in the surroundings.
My Tallest Friend elaborated a little more on his spontaneous suggestion of a woodland walk, explaining this concept being quite common in Japanese culture and appreciated for its therapeutic benefits. This idea of "forest bathing" came about in Japan in the 80s and is proven to lower stress levels, improve sleep and energy, reduce your heart rate and blood pressure and strengthen your immune system. Basically, make you an all-round happier, healthier you.
It's called Shinrin-yoku. The incentive is actually to have no incentive at all. You just put yourself in the woods and wander at your own pace. You're not doing it for fitness or to reach a certain goal, you're just doing it to be presently there. You inhale the natural phytoncide, emitted by the vegetation, and you get all kinds of energy. It's amazing what a breath of fresh air can do to you.
The day was cold, causing my phone to consistently die, so my photos taken were limited. But I consider this a blessing. I was able to disconnect and be completely aware of my friends and the placidity of the trees.
On the train ride home, I felt like an ocean of inspiration had washed over me, replacing the bearing weight of the problems I had arrived at the forest with. It made me consider how much money we spend on therapy and coffee breaks and all-inclusive vacations, just to get away from our problems or the insanity of daily life, for a moment or for a day or for a week. Is all that really necessary when something so simple as wandering around the woods can have the same effect? And what makes it even easier is that there's no one to charge your credit card when you enter the forest. How lovely!