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challenge completed

I wrote the blog on forest bathing last week and I gave myself a challenge to do a 1 hour walk in nature in about a month’s time. When I wrote the challenge, I wasn’t expecting to complete it the next day. Let me share how that happened.

In our journey to bring Souljym from idea to a reality we have sought the help of a business accelerator organization. We are being mentored by an outstanding collective of San Diego executives who have provided invaluable counsel to us. The day after I wrote the post, I had the task to revise a pitch presentation, but I was blocked on the revisions. I needed time to reflect how to incorporate the advice and reflect it in a visual way. I spent a few hours that morning at the computer frustrated - complete writer’s block. Then scrolling through some news feeds popped some information that it was not too late to see the cherry blossoms at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.

The Japanese Friendship Gardens sit on a 12-acre plot and had just completed it Cherry Blossom Festival the week prior. The Garden is well known for its unique setting, stone arrangements, koi ponds, water features, sukiya-style buildings and landscapes. I can’t remember if I ever visited the gardens as part of childhood field trips to Balboa Park, never as an adult.

Thus, I took it as a sign to answer my challenge. I had just written about the benefits that nature can clear the mind. Plus I have a fondness for cherry blossoms that I discovered when I lived in New Jersey for a few years. As an aside, did you know Brook Branch Park in New Jersey has the nation’s largest collection of cherry blossom trees? I suppose you can guess what happened next. I got in my car and headed to Balboa Park to sit and walk through the Garden. To my surprise I was going to fulfill my challenge. I didn’t leave the house empty handed though, I brought a clipboard and pad of paper just in case I got unstuck. I didn’t want miss the opportunity to write anything down if inspiration finally came into my head. It was a compromise to bringing the laptop. Probably not what the forest bathing advocates suggest, but I was on a deadline. As I entered the Garden, I was remember the words of Dr. Qing Li, “The key to unlocking the power of the forest is in the five senses.  Let nature enter through your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands and feet.”   I was going to be mindful throughout the experience.

My forest bathing view at the Japanese Friendship Garden, March 28, 2019

The exquisite beauty of this corner of Balboa Park is breathtaking. I walked around breathing in the air and noticing the sounds of the water streams trickling through the rocks. I paid attention to what my eyes and ears were drawn and relishing in the experience.

I found a quiet corner of the Garden and sat. Behind me was a small waterfall stream, so I could hear the sound of the water, in front of me was a giant Buddha that had been carved many centuries ago and when I looked to the right I could see the walkways lined with cherry blossoms.

You can see that I had my clipboard on my lap. Once I relaxed into the setting, I sketched out ideas for 5 key slides to the presentation. Once, I did that, I walked around some more and really enjoyed the setting I was in.

My forest bathing experience was fantastic. I didn’t planned it and in fact before I got in the car I was conflicted because of the looming deadline. It felt frivolous to spend a few hours walking in the gardens when I should have been powering through it, laboring at the computer. What swayed me to get into the car was all the research I had reviewed and condensed into the previous day’s blog. I can’t say for certain if I would have been as productive had I chosen to powered through it as I was sitting in front of the giant Buddha experiencing the sights and sounds of the Gardens. But I can say for certain that I will no longer view my need for nature walks as frivolous.

Now my nature walking friends are likely saying in their heads “duh”. I can be a slow learning on some things and this was one of them. I am capable of change and this will be one of those things that I will make time to do.

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