Most mornings, while silently drinking my cup of coffee or eating my morning breakfast I spend a few minutes staring at a tree outside of a large window in our third-floor apartment. It’s one of those billowing trees that has a huge trunk that branches into a large circular crown of leaves.
I don’t really do anything while I stare at it. I let my mind think about what it wants to think and try to be aware of the present moment. Most mornings, the moment doesn’t last too long as my toddler son usually comes running out of his bedroom to greet me and the day.
I’ve sat in front of it during all four seasons now. In summer it’s a deep green and in winter it branches are grayish brown bending in all directions. In fall it shows off by changing a vibrant spectrum of colors. At the time of writing this, it seemed as if green buds grew over night. I could have sworn they were not there a day ago.
I’m no arborist, so I can’t tell you if it’s a maple, oak, chestnut, or a sycamore tree (I literally just googled “types of big trees” in order to write that former sentence).
What I can tell you, though, is staring at a tree has been scientifically proven to reduce your blood pressure, lower anxiety, and bring a sense of calm. Other studies have shown simply looking at an image of a tree can allow our parasympathetic of the central nervous system to calm our entire body.
In Japan, they have even instituted what is known as Forest Bathing, which is just known as being in the presence of trees, because it increases calm and promotes bodily health.
I don’t know about you, but I sure am open to having less anxiety and more calm in my life.
So, if today is stressful, jam-packed with meetings, emails, and to-do lists; or if this season of life has been overwhelming, overly busy, and difficult; or if you want a moment to connect with your soul, I encourage you to go outside and stare at a tree for a few minutes. Go take a Forest Bath.
I can’t promise it will be magical, but I can promise it will bring a sense of calm. And that in itself can often be life-changing.