My children I’m sure, think I’m strange when I stand next to a tree and put my hand on it and close my eyes.

I’ve loved trees since I was a child and have a particular fondness for the oak tree. I remember having a huge oak tree in my back garden and found wonder in its shape and size which I always felt protected by it. There really is something magic about trees that we have been witness to over the centuries. Our ancestors through pagan times would worship trees, Isaac Newton even founded his theory of gravity sitting under a tree.

Over the years I have often found trees deeply healing and I love walking through a forest. I use my mindfulness practice when walking amongst these tall giants, connecting to my breath and being grateful to them for all they do for us. They provide oxygen, medicinal properties, timber for housing and fuel.

I watched an insightful programme about trees with Dame Judi Dench. She has a forest in her garden and was getting more information on the trees from experts. From this programme, I found out how truly remarkable trees are. Seeing how they communicate with each other through their roots and actually hearing the tree drinking water – yes hearing it!

You can watch the whole programme here.

When trees are together and one tree is sick they provide extra nutrients to the sick tree, helping it to survive. Trees that are on their own, show signs of loneliness and sadness through their leaves.

This information just blows my mind, and shows how living and special they are.

When I’m out walking in the trees I feel safe, protected, grounded and calm. In Japan, they have a word for these feeling around trees called ‘Shinrin-Yoku’ or ‘forest bathing for you and me’.

In Japan 2004, the National Land Afforestation Promotion Organisation did an experiment and discovered that a forest stroll has benefits for blood pressure, heart rate, and the immune system. They also found that people who walked amongst the trees for 20 minutes a day had a 13% lower concentration of the stress hormone cortisol (psychologies 2010).

What a fantastic reason to get out in the woods this weekend and enjoy some forest bathing and it will do wonders for your health and mental well-being. I might even post a picture of me hugging a tree.