The Healing Power of Shinrin Yoku (‘Forest Bathing’)
It’s been almost three weeks since I touched down in the green and beautiful Costa Rica. I have spent countless hours practicing yoga and meditation, reading, writing, creating, and resting. But, the most impactful activity that has filled my schedule and my soul on this trip has been the hours spent exploring and hiking through the magical rainforest.
Yesterday, as I was perched upon a mountaintop, gazing out across acres and acres of seemingly uninhabited land, I began to reflect upon the times in my life where nature alone had restored my energy to its fullest capacity, bringing me back to a state of homeostasis. A state of total balance and utter bliss—a state of love.
There’s something about being enveloped by lush, canopied trees that momentarily makes you forget about outer world stressors and allows you to feel connected to or a part of something greater. When this activity translates into a daily experience, the worries, sorrows, fears, and fatigue begin to promptly dissipate.
In the 1980’s, the Japanese developed the concept of ‘Shinrin Yoku,’ otherwise known as ‘forest bathing!’ The essence of forest bathing is exactly as it sounds—walking through (basking in!) the forest, while taking in the entire forest atmosphere in a calm, relaxed—mindful—manner, engaging the five senses. While many of us tend to intuitively seek the restorative power of nature, the concept has become a foundational approach to preventative medicine and healing in Japanese health care, backed by a vigorous body of scientific research that demonstrates the myriad health benefits of spending time amongst the forest. So, forest therapy is no longer a mere ‘woo-woo’ concept or belief! Health benefits of forest bathing or therapy range from: reduced blood pressure and stress level, to increased immunity, concentration, and energy level, as well as improved sleep and mood.
“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ John Muir
I know all too well how daunting it can feel to have to drag yourself out of the house and make your way to the nearest forest when you are feeling down or exhausted. However; that the forest expects nothing from you—you can do, be, wear, feel whatever you want, and, at no cost—may provide a tiny spark of motivation that would perhaps not be there for say, a ‘coffee date’ with friends in a busy café.
So, if it is accessible to you, I encourage you to get outside and soak up the beauty of nature and allow it to soak up your stress and worries in return!
Be real, be well,