Often, a foreign language will have a term that succinctly and exquisitely describes a thought, a feeling or an experience. For example, I wrote about Shibumi, a Japanese word which describes the sophistication of simple things. A new Japanese word was presented, all thanks to wait in the doctor’s office, and a flutter through the June issue of the Oprah magazine. Shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing” is the Japanese practice of spending time in the forest. According to this study from Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School, participants showed an increase in disease-fighting white blood cells. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your walk in the woods:
- Leave your music behind. Instead, choose to listen to the symphony of sounds – the drumming of an industrious woodpecker; the hoohoooohooooo of an owl, up too early; the shhhshshsh of rain as it sluices through the leaves; the distant whistle of a train.
- Take note of Mother Nature’s palette. How many shades of green do you notice? Brown? Blue? What has changed since your last visit?
- How do you feel? Is there a lot of head-chatter? (This was something I noticed about myself. I was undoing the benefits of the walk, worrying about this, that and everything else. Fortunately, I learned how to stop the worry by activating the power of my heart. Now, I replace those unproductive thoughts by changing my heart rate variability by balancing the two branches of my autonomic nervous system.)
- Speed up. Slow down. Amble. Saunter. Stroll. Stride. Enjoy!
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ John Muir
When was the last time you had the pleasure of being out in nature? What insights did you have while forest bathing?