Have you ever noticed that you feel better after spending time in nature? Maybe you took a walk outside in the sunshine, or sat and listened to the songs of the birds in the trees outside your window. That feeling is real, being outside in nature makes us happy.
Shinrin-yoku, also known as Forest Bathing in Japanese, is the practice of ‘being in’ and ‘connecting with’ nature through all of your senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Since its origination in the 1980’s, Forest Bathing has become a cornerstone of preventative health care and healing in Japanese medicine and now is quickly gaining support throughout the world.
Enjoying the sounds of the forest like birds singing, insects buzzing, the scent of the Earth and the wind rustling through the leaves brings all of our senses to life. Forest bathing is a completely different way to be in nature. It is an intentionally slow and relaxed walk or wander through the woods or any natural space, where the participant is invited to engage with nature and experience a deeper connection to the natural world through invitations. We are in essence using all our senses to slow down and observe what’s happening around us.
Research has indicated that spending time in nature not only strengthens human immune system response and reduces stress, but also makes us more creative, mindful, and content in our lives. The beauty of Forest Bathing is that it connects humans and nature. Participants often report an increase in their ability to focus, improved mood, better sleep. These mindful experiences in nature, provide a sense of peace, comfort and calm.
"Connecting with nature is simple. All we have to do is accept the invitation."
Find a spot. You don't need to journey deep into a forest for these benefits. Just look for any green space that speaks to you.
Get lost in the details. Fractal patterns found in nature significantly reduce your stress levels. It seems objects such as a branching tree, snowflake or flower are not only aesthetically pleasing to our eye, but they resonate within the eye. CALMING and REDUCING STRESS in the person who is observing the object.
Walk slowly, take in all of your surroundings and let your senses guide you.
Appreciate the silence. Silence is restorative, and a forest or backyard can have its own healing sound—wind blowing through the trees, a bird's song or water splashing in a stream. Soundscapes are nature’s medicine.
Go barefoot, place your hands on the trunk of a tree or dip your fingers or toes into a stream. Use your sense of touch to get connected.
When we get closer to nature, whether it is in a forest, local park or a backyard, we do our over-stressed brains a favor. Nature offers us a reset button, an anchor to quiet the mind, a path to wellness, a place to heal and to find refuge.
Nature is the original remedy for stress reduction and improved happiness, reminding us we can adapt, rejuvenate and grow. As we navigate through these uncertain times, consider spending more time in nature.
Sara Clem, of Salveo Yoga offers a wide variety of nature-based wellness programs, workshops, retreats, private and corporate programming. To learn more visit www.salveoyoga.com