If you haven’t heard or read about it yet, you might have been living under a rock. 😉 This practice, also known as ‘Shinrinyoku’ was originated in Japan in the 1980s but is fast becoming known here in North America and other technology entrenched parts of the globe.
As science is discovering the numerous benefits of this practice, many are jumping on the bandwagon. From decreasing stress on the body and mind, boosting immunity and increasing energy, to improving general mood, you can see why ‘forest bathing’ is a fast growing trend.
The essential oils released by the abundance of plants, flowers, and trees of the forest also affects your psyche, physiology, and spirit, as the practice & science of ‘aromatherapy’ can attest to.
So, What is Forest-Bathing?
Essentially, forest bathing is a leisurely walk in the woods without distractions from devices. The idea is to tune into your senses and notice your surroundings. What do you hear, smell, see? Caress a tree and see how it feels, not only tactilely but energetically. If you have an excellent guidebook and know, with absolute certainty, a particular plant is safe and edible, you can even taste the forest.
David Gessner echoes my sentiments perfectly in this National Geographic’s ‘Nature’s Call To Wild’ clip.
I will say, with complete confidence, I think this is the number one best thing that anyone could do for their overall wellbeing. Even if this is the only health practice you ever incorporate into your daily life, I think you’d be surprised at the noticeable benefits you’d gain in a short span of time.
In my own experience, I feel my stress quickly draining from my system as I enter the woods. The deeper I breathe and the more I focus on the beauty around me, the further seduced I am into enchantment. My senses awaken and I feel myself come to an enigmatic state of aliveness. I feel a connection with the forest I’m in, in the same way I would with an individual I’m getting to know. Every place is unique and has a different feel. Each has its own personality and energy. It’s the collective vibration of every life, insect, plant, animal, and otherworldly, that lives there and an aspect of Mother Earth herself.
But, before I scare you off, you don’t have to feel things quite as esoterically as I do to gain countless life-changing benefits. 😉
Where Do I Start?
National and Provincial Parks are a treasure. You really should visit and support any in your area but there’s also plenty of tinier wooded paths, parks and hidden gems to be found if you hunt for them. Just make sure you’re not trespassing on private property without permission. 🙂
If you’re local, feel free to connect with me and I’ll share all my personal favorites.
Go out and discover for yourself the magic of ‘Forest-Bathing’. But be sure to follow some basic safety measures.
Some Basic Hiking Safety Tips
- Bring water and a snack just-in-case.
- Wear appropriate clothing for weather, bug and poisonous plant protection.
- Let someone know where you’re going.
- You can bring a cell phone in case of emergency, just make sure to shut it off.
- Do not approach wild animals! You might even want to carry a walking stick for protection. (Check ahead to find out what predators might be abundant in your area and at that time.)
- Stay on the path and avoid long grasses where ticks love to hang out.
- Trust your instincts! If something or someone is making the hairs on your neck stand on end, listen to that warning! (Even if it’s more subtle than that.)
- If it’s legal where you live, carry pepper-spray.
These tips aren’t meant to scare you off from this practice. These are just precautions for extra measure. I have never, as yet, run into a life threatening situation in my lifetime of hiking but it’s always better to be safe.
If you feel safer, take a friend or your dog, or better yet, come out on a ‘Wild Child ReEnchantment Walk’ with me. I’ll be happy to guide you on a safe, educational and magic filled journey to show you how to get the best experience from your new health venture. 🙂