This ONE thing has dramatically improved my health

Take a guess! Moving to India? Changing my diet? Sleeping more?

These things have certainly helped but they’re not what I’m talking about!

The one key thing that has significantly improved my health is scheduling regular ‘meetings with Nature’, time to simply “be”. It has helped me to slow down and the knock-on effects from this has helped a lot.

And it’s an organic, pleasurable, unforced slowing down, where previously I felt mostly resistance when someone suggested I rest more.

The Thinking Mind: “There is so much to get done, I have many interests to pursue – slowing down does not appeal!”

“If you go out for several hours into a place that is wild, your mind begins to slow down, down, down. What is happening is that the clay of your body is retrieving its own sense of sisterhood with the great clay of the landscape.” ― John O’Donohue, Walking in Wonder: Eternal Wisdom for a Modern World 

I felt inspired to share my Slowing Down Discovery with you because this Sunday (August 8th) marks a public holiday in Japan called Mountain Day, or ‘Yama-no-Hi’. On this day, Japanese people are encouraged to explore, enjoy the wonder of nature, and breathe lungfuls of fresh, mountain air. 

The significance of mountains

Mountains have long been places of meditation and worship by Shintoists since the seventh century. Pondering the blessings that mountains offer is reflective of Shintoism, the dominant religious practice in Japan. Before the Scientific Revolution, Nature was considered in a spiritual context, deserving of respect and admiration. (Source)

Japanese Alps at Kamikochi in Matsumoto, Nagano (Source)

Spending the past two months in the mountains of north India cradled in a tree-lined valley has felt like being held in a kind of natural healing space. My home rests on the edge of a pine forest bordered by a stream – it feels like a peaceful sanctuary.

Going slow is a way of life here and anyway there is little option when the hills are so steep and the paths turn to slippery mud after the rain! Watching the fog roll in or the streams turn to loud gushing rivers after a cloudburst are profoundly simply ways to re-set your speed and embrace the slow life.

The short meditation videos (The Goa Sessions) I made earlier this year over 12 weeks are further testament to the healing power of spending time in Nature.

Why the focus on slowing down?

A core belief of SJA Holistics is in the huge gains for our health (in every sense) to be found if we could live a little slower, and create space to regularly listen to ourselves more closely. 

Moving to India and discovering a slower pace of life – shanti shanti as they say in Goa – has been profoundly positive for my health and wellbeing. With a less cluttered mind, I can think more clearly. I’m no longer fuelled by coffee. I sleep better and feel far more in tune with my ‘inner world’.

Another thing that made slowing down uncomfortable as because it is contrary to the years of conditioning that aligns one’s value with productivity, and to rest is to imply a quality of laziness. Several periods of burnout made me finally address these unhealthy beliefs and seek out my own rhythm.

“Each person’s rhythm is peculiar to himself….The wisdom is to understand oneself. If one can sustain the proper rhythm of one’s mind, that is sufficient to keep one healthy.”*

The healing power of nature

Shinrin Yoku translates literally as ‘Forest shower’ or ‘Forest Bathing’. It originated in Japan in the 1980s as a response to mass urbanisation, disconnection from the land, and the results of unhealthy lifestyles in large overcrowded cities.

Shinrin Yoku walks take place on forest roads, known as ‘therapy roads’ and the walks are an invitation to become immersed in woodlands and forests.

In the practice of Shinrin Yoku we can connect to Nature at a deeper level, inviting in a sense of awe that leads to an appreciation of the natural world and therefore a desire to protect and nurture it, to give something back. This is reciprocity and is part of our ecological ‘belonging’. (Source)

Plan your own ‘meeting with Nature’ this August 8th

Where might you explore on Mountain Day? If you cannot get to dizzy heights, is there a local park or woodland you could check out? This guide to forest bathing (relevant for any wild space) may also help you.

“When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things. When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us.”  John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

shiatsu reiki acupressure


Nature therapy organisations:

Nature & Therapy (UK)

Way of Nature Spiritual Fellowship (International)

The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT) (US)

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About Me

I founded SJA Holistics to help people get well, feel great, and stay well using the power of practices derived from Eastern Medicine including Shiatsu, Reiki, Acupressure and Qi Gong.

For over a decade I’ve worked with Ki and have first-hand experience of how energy- and body-work can lead to positive health. Working with the energy body as well as the physical can bring profound changes to mental, emotional and physical issues.

After completing three years of study for the Professional Shiatsu Diploma, I honed my experience working voluntarily for six months in a national UK charity giving Shiatsu to people recovering from substance misuse.

It is my mission to help you recognise your own self-healing ability and to empower you with the skills and knowledge you need to dramatically improve your self-care.

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My Approach

We create your current health picture. Then we get clear on your goals so that we are aligned from the outset. This makes it easier to monitor progress.

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Intelligent Energy

Every one of us has a universal energy, also known as lifeforce, chi, prana and Ki, that underpins our whole existence, and within that, our health. Stimulating the flow of Ki is how you can get well, feel great and stay well.

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