I felt my anxiety and worries dissolve as I slowly meandered through a forest one day, taking in all the sights, smells and sounds around me. Without even knowing it, I was practicing the Japanese art of Shinrin-Yoku, which translated literally means forest bathing.
The art of forest bathing
Forest bathing is the very simple practice of slowly moving through a forest taking in everything nature has to offer with all our senses. There is no destination goal, no summit to cross off a bucket list or need to break a sweat. There is no fitness level required or expensive equipment to buy. I would however, recommend you wear clothes – although I’ll leave up to you!
I’m a dedicated forest bather now. I prefer to walk in a pair of flip-flops in the summer, which I then trade for a pair of lined crocks for my winter adventures. And when the mood suits me, I adorn myself in my purple dragon onesie, pull my hair up into a knot and go find a big ole’ tree to hug.
The healing gifts of forest bathing are not exclusive to wandering through a forest. We can experience them to a lesser degree in city parks and even in our homes.
Benefits of forest bathing
Helps produce more happiness hormones.
Mitigates aggression and sudden mood swings.
Helps repair damaged tissue.
Reduces the risk of dementia.
Relaxes and restores eyesight, which is greatly impaired by the constant use of LED screens on all our devices.
Lowers blood pressure and slows heart rate.
Improves digestion significantly when taking a walk after a meal.
Boosts defenses, naturally protecting us from all disease.
Increases life expectancy.
Forest bathing closer to home
The healing gifts of forest bathing are not exclusive to wandering through a forest. We can experience them to a lesser degree in city parks and even in our homes. We can have house plants and scented candles in our homes or use essential oil diffusers to be reminded of our connection to the earth. Some scents helpful in achieving this goal are cypress, cedar, pine or hiba.
Celebrating the journey
In my own personal journey through life, I have found the practice of forest bathing to be the basis of all my self-care. Sometimes I find myself sitting in my own back yard under the apple tree listening to the leaves rustle in the breeze and the birds singing their summer songs. Sometimes it’s snowshoeing in a local park with the crisp winter wind biting my cheeks.
One thing is certain, no matter where my forest bathing takes me, I come back to the hustle and bustle fulfilled and able to take on whatever life hands me.