Good Friends and Fresh Air

Spent the whole weekend in the woods, on a property set on a beautiful lake, surrounded by thousands of pine trees, the kind of place that you go too and that makes you let out a big *sigh*.  Top this with a bunch of good friends, lots of laugh and there you have it, one of my most favourite place to be, the ACC Hut at the Bon Echo Provincial Park. Needless to say, it felt pretty good to be back!

In the Ottawa region we are very lucky. Whether driving or biking, in only a few minutes one can access hundreds of acres of forest with kilometers of trails to walk on and cabins to get too. I had once heard an interview on CBC Radio about the beneficial effects of being in a forest. Diana Beresford-Kroeger, a botanist and biochemist based in Merrickville, Ontario, who also recently published “The Global Forest“, was saying that she had been conducting research and studies on the effects of breathing the air in a forest on humans.

She found that when walking in a pine forest on a warm day for example, trees release Alpha and Beta Pinene, volatile coumpounds that have a calming effect on the human’s nervous system. Research has also shown that simply looking out of the window at a green space is soothing. On the other hand, we can all agree that being stressed is not beneficial to our body and that it is the cause of many diseases and anger in the world. Based on fear of lacking, fear of not having, stress can be controlled and rationalized in many ways.

So get out there! Plan a day hike in the woods with friends or by yourself. Breath in this fresh air and release all that negativity and stress. It doesn’t have to be long, in fact studies show that a quick 20 minute walk in the woods is enough to have a relaxing effect. So breathe, smile and be happy!

Have a good day :)

The Ripple Effect

I’m sure everyone has noticed that when a rock is thrown in water, circles form around the area where the rock entered the water; ripples right?! Have you ever noticed though, that once the ripples reach the shore, they start moving back in the opposite direction, towards the middle of the lake? Or, have you ever noticed that when you throw two rocks close to each other, their ripples cross? Obviously I have too much free time on my hands!

Let’s try, for a moment, to picture ourselves as these rocks. Let’s imagine the ripples as the impact we have on people around  us – even people we do not know. Do we tend to shove people out-of-the-way, or do we offer a newly available seat to someone else? Do we judge (or envy) the beautiful woman that just walked by, or do we smile at her, acknowledging her beauty? And with our loved ones, do we take them for granted and dwell on the past, or do we offer our love unconditionally? In the end, whatever we choose to do, or think, has an effect on you and on those around you. Even when sitting still in meditation, we have an effect on others as well as ourselves – or maybe it is the other way around.

I really enjoy looking at Zen Buddhist gardens for this reason. Even though the rocks are still, a ripple effect is still represented, drawn in the sand. It tells us that whether we choose to stand still or whether we move around a lot, we create ripples around us. Sometimes, we even have the opportunity to see them, but whether we choose to make a positive difference or not, is entirely up to us.

So try it! Notice how your behavior affects others. A quick and easy one is smiling. When I see someone smiling or someone smiles at me, I usually smile too, even when I do not know the person. Then, smiling makes someone else smile and their smile may make someone else smile and so on, and so forth. The catch is that it also works very well with hate, anger and fear unfortunately. So what will you choose your ripple effect to be today?


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