More than ever, forest bathing is fast becoming a popular health trend.
What is Forest Bathing? What are its benefits?
What is Forest Bathing (Shinrin-yoku)?
Translated from the Japanese term “Shinrin-yoku” — Forest bathing is otherwise popularly regarded as forest therapy.
According to Haida Bolton, a renowned Canadian Forest Therapy Guide (The first to be certified by B.C) — “This phenomenon captures that feeling you get when you try to immerse yourself completely in the atmosphere of the forest and allow its peacefulness and beauty to wash over your senses thereby manifesting a calming effect in you“.
This therapeutic practice is said to have come from the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs based out of California. According to Haida, this association was inspired by the Japanese practice of forest bathing.
How Forest Bathing is Done
Forest bathing can be guided or done solo. For the solo part, the process goes something like this:
- Do Away with Distractions: When getting ready for the exercise, it is recommended that you leave your mobile phone and other distracting gadgets behind. This is important to ensure your full presence in the experience.
- Leave your Goals and Expectations Behind: With Forest Bathing, there are no routes, no destinations. You just wander to wherever your body leads you.
- Pause at Intervals: This is done to take a close look at leaves and get a feel of the sensations beneath your feet.
- Sit for a While: Sit somewhere comfy, listen and immerse yourself in the sounds and ambiance of the forest.
Another way of doing this is under the supervision of a forest therapy guide who will be by participants’ side during the exercise. The guide will slow participants down to enable them to interact with the forest with their full senses in a meaningful and healing way. The aim is to pay more attention to the elements of the journey rather than the destination.
Benefits of Forest Bathing
- Spark Creativity and Problem Solving: Shinrin-yoku helps you pay close attention to your surroundings thereby triggering your mind to see things that can inspire other areas of your life.
- Promotes Well-being: Thanks to a blog owned by the David Suzuki Foundation, the relaxing benefits of Forest Bathing are well documented. It helps with reducing anxiety, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and also boosting the immune system. Japanese investigations have also indicated that people who practice Shinrin-yoku breathe in beneficial bacteria, negatively charged ions, and plant-based essential oils among many others.
Over the years, based on research, Forest Bathing has proven to be quite effective for specific physical and mental health issues.
Luckily, Muskoka has many forests as well as cottages and homes set among the trees. Come LiveMuskoka.ca and discover Forest Bathing.