The other day walking my dog, Sugi, I was struck by a burst of sunlight shining through the mossy limbs of the thick forest.
It was then I stopped, looked up and was stunned by the awe of natures beauty all around me. It was overwhelming. There were golden, autumn streaks blaring through the intertwining, moss saturated branches.
There was the occasional dew drip falling onto the leaves beneath me on the forest floor. The air was filled with a fresh maple, alder, woodsy scent that seemed to mist my face as I walked through the occasional patch of fog.
My dog would run up the trail a little, stop, and wait for me to start moving again. I was entranced by the forest and it's smells, gazing around and tuning my ears in.
It was in those moments, that all was completely still. Those quiet moments are when I feel connected and fully in the present moment.
It is a sot of meditation practice, a forest meditation. I forget about all the other worries and focus on what is around me at that second.
I focus on all the tiny crawlers on the forest floor, the birds flying around and the dramatic sun rays bursting through the moisture rich, vibrant green mossy limbs. I look intensely at all the flora and fauna encircling me.
That is what I call forest bathing. It is a way to be deeply involved in the moment. It is a way to relax.
There are studies showing that forest bathing has an overall calming affect on the body and may help relief stress.
"The morning mist in the trees of this picture, highlights the sun rays flooding the forest."
The Japanese name for forest bathing is shinrin yoku. It shows benefits on both the mental and physical well being.
The studies of shinrin yoku show that the human body is calmed after being out in the forest and nature. This is now being applied as a stress management tool, an aide in rehabilitation and a preventative health care practice.
I have noticed positive effects in my mindset after forest bathing and believe more should practice it! In a world that is so hectic and fast-paced, it is good to slow down and take in the work of mother nature.
The more you bathe your senses in natures sounds, feels, smells, sights and all it has to offer, the more connected you can feel!
Traditional forest bathing also hosts a tea ceremony at the end. It is a tea served after being in a deep forest meditation for some time. It is seen as a time to bring the forest bathing experience to a closure and summarizing what was noticed and felt in the days session.
Forest bathing should be a more common practice.
It is a beneficial habit to get connected back to nature, lower blood pressure, relief stress and other positive effects.
Stay in tune with nature and it will guide you down the right path. Beauty is all around. Nature has a million gifts to offer, you just need to open your eyes and accept them.
I hope you delight in some forest bathing soon!
Feel free to tell me about a time you have done some forest bathing below.
Video below on the ancient Japanese ritual, shinrin-yoku. This video graciously presented by the Casa do Valle in Portugal.