January 10, 2022
Have you noticed that when you spend time in nature it feels like everything in the world is just a little lighter? That you can breathe more deeply? One of my favorite things to do is to go for a walk. Spending time in nature, following a forest path, with tall trees overhead – the only sound is that of the wind sweeping through a canopy of trees.
Shinrin-Yoku is a Japanese word that translates to “forest bathing” or “to absorb the forest nature”. You may be picturing a bath filled with pine needles…but no, forest bathing does not mean taking a bath in the forest! The term forest bathing was coined in 1982 by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries – the meaning of forest bathing is to spend time in nature. Forest bathing aims to experience nature in the present moment, immersing yourself in the sights and sounds of a natural setting. The practice is effective whether surrounded by a canopy of trees or in a small city park.
Research conducted in Japan has shown that spending time in forest environments can decrease concentrations of cortisol, lower heart rate, decrease blood pressure, improve parasympathetic nervous system activity, and lower sympathetic nervous system energy. This can help you relax and be in a calmer state. Furthermore, research has shown:
- Time in nature decreases anxiety and negative thinking
- Forest bathing helps to relieve neck pain and improve your overall health
- Outdoor activity improves both mental & physical well-being more than indoor activity
- Time in nature helps to decrease high blood pressure
- Time in nature is associated with better cognitive development in school children
- Time in nature lowers levels of depression and stress
- The closer you are to green space, the less you suffer from cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, mental health, respiratory, neurological, and digestive diseases
Reaping the benefits of forest bathing is accessible even in an urban setting – the benefits are not only when going into a heavily wooded area or national park. Taking a trip to a local park, a nearby trail, the lake, the beach, or any natural setting will help you experience the benefits of forest bathing. The key is to connect present moment awareness and bathe your senses in nature. Take a few moments to immerse yourself in the environment by using your senses.
Having arrived in your preferred setting take a few moments to ask yourself a few questions. What do you hear? What do you see? What do you feel? You may hear birds chirping, or the ocean waves. You may notice trees swaying in the wind or clouds floating in the sky. You might choose to sit and take in the surroundings. Or you might choose to take a leisurely walk, being aware of your feet touching the earth. Taking time to fully immerse your senses in the present moment is the true benefit behind forest bathing. Taking time to allow your mind to unwind, explore and reflect will help to calm the mind and heal the spirit.
Did you know Inner Dimension TV has several guided meditations that focus on immersing yourself in nature? Check out one of the suggested practices below!