Around this time of year, it’s important to pause and take stock. To assess the year thus far, and at the same time, be present in a world that is constantly in flux.
As Spring nears, we find ourselves yearning to go out into the bright sun and breathe in the fresh air. We would like to introduce you to the practice of Shinrin-Yoku, or as we call it, ‘Forest Bathing’.
Shinrin-Yoku is a meditation that's practised amongst the trees. It is designed to restore the ancient bond between humans and nature and was introduced by the Japanese government in the 1980s in response to the declining mental well-being of its citizens. Thanks to reforestation and the deep connection between Japanese culture and the natural world, the practice quickly gained popularity, thus rebuilding the bridge between humanity and the forest.
Forest bathing is a ritual that can be performed anywhere in the world, whether it’s deep in the wilderness, at your local park, or in your garden.
The sound and touch of the wind. The bird calls and the rustle of the ground beneath us. Taking in the forest atmosphere. Creating a multisensory experience of body and mind. Energy restoration. Healing.
The restorative power of the natural world has long been studied and proven to be of great value to our well-being. This unique form of therapy allows the surrounding environment to absorb your energies and deepens your connection with nature.
Trees release essential oils called phytoncides which protect them from harmful bacteria. However, phytoncides can also provide many benefits to humans, including, strengthening our immune systems, elevating mood, reducing blood pressure, stress and anxiety, and improving sleep and creativity.
Here’s a small guide on how to practice:
Find a quiet time of day (early morning or dusk) and head to a nearby park or forest.
Turn off all your electronic devices to avoid interruptions, so you can focus completely, and immerse yourself in your practice.
Breathe. Slow your mind, and deepen your concentration.
Listen. Open your senses to what you can hear, whether it’s birds flying above you or leaves rustling in the wind.
Be still. Feel your feet on the earth, rooting you to the ground, and allow the power of nature to stabilise your heart rate and steady your mind.
When you open your eyes, allow the multisensory experience to take hold of your mind and continue walking at a slower pace. A feeling of relaxation should start to descend upon you as you become more aware of your surroundings.
The principles of forest bathing are not reserved solely for natural environments, they can be implemented when admiring the plants in your home or feeling a gentle breeze on your balcony. The same method applies: breathe, listen and allow nature to perform its calming ritual.