Forest Bathing

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?

2 Replies to “Forest Bathing”

  1. In all the Indian languages that I know there is a phrase implying taking in the fresh air. In Hindi it is called “havaa khaanaa”. When one feels oppressed or stressed, one would say that he would go out and take some air!

    I try and go every evening to our local park photos of which you have seen in my blog. It has patches that are mini jungles and very refreshing. And good company adds to the atmosphere and one’s batteries get charged!

  2. Ramana,
    Adding “havaa khaanaa”to my list! 🙂

    It’s so important to have that touch of healing nature. I’m glad that you take and make that time for yourself.

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