Shinrin-Yoku – Forest Bathing
Mindfulness comes to us in many forms, and having the opportunity to combine it with shinrin-yoku is one of the most luxurious things you can do for yourself. Shinrin-Yoku is the ancient art of forest bathing. It’s not just “a walk in the park”, it’s a sensory perception experience focused on seeing, hearing and smelling. The participant deliberately immerses himself or herself with nature. In Japanese medicine shinrin-yoku plays an important part in preventative medicine and healing.
When participating in shinrin-yoku and mindfulness it’s important to power down and disconnect from our cell phones. As you walk quietly in the forest focus on your breath and the inhale and exhale; tune in to what inspires your senses. Focus on the scent of the birch or evergreen trees, the flowers with their light floral scents or perhaps even the moss. Listen for the soft relaxing bird songs of the many birds that sing and inhabit the forest. If a light rain comes you may even pick up the powerful scent of fresh rain, and feel the winds on your skin as they pick up and roll in with the rain. There may even be an earthy smell coming from the ground as the rain falls on the dry soil. As you walk touch, listen and heal.
By combining mindfulness and shinrin-yoku one can enhance restorative properties and have significant health advantages. Studies indicate that when people practice shinrin-yoku and immerse themselves in the forest; the stress hormone cortisol decreases significantly. Compared to people who walk in an urban environment, their cortisol levels dropped almost more than 16 percent. Participant’s blood pressure also shows improvement in only 15 minutes of practice. Trees and plants emit a chemical called Phytoncides and there are many benefits to breathing forest air. Women in the study, who reported spending two to four hours in the forest on two successive days, had a 40 percent surge in the activity of cancer-fighting white blood cells. Also exposure to Phytoncide reduces stress hormones, and aids the immune system to fight and kill cancer cells.
With regular practice on can expect a deeper clearer intuition, increased flow of energy and life force, enhanced friendships, and an overall increase in happiness levels. Health benefits also include reduced stress levels, calming, rejuvenating, and restorative benefits. Even if you don’t live near a forest, studies indicate that just looking out your window at green spaces with trees can help reduce muscle tension and stress. See you in the woods!