There’s no denying that most of us live hectic and chaotic lives which give us no breaks and which overwhelms us with work, school, family, raising kids, getting promotions, trying to find women on cougar dating sites, figuring out how to pay out our student loans, etc. This is why many people will turn to relaxation techniques such as massaging and yoga in order to alleviate as much stress as possible.
This is why we wanted to talk about a new global trend that focuses on the mind and the body without using any modern technology or complicated and expensive devices – “forest bathing.” We’ll look into the history of the phenomenon, why it’s actually useful and how to properly practice it.
From Japan with Love
The term “forest bathing” is actually only a translation from the original Japanese name Shinrin-yoku. This activity isn’t exactly new in Japan – it has existed for centuries there and is an essential part of an average Japanese person’s lifestyle.
In the western civilization, however, the Shinrin-yoku has only shown up a year or two ago and even though it couldn’t catch momentum immediately, it did grow to become one of the most popular relaxation trends today.
But what exactly is “forest bathing” and what does it stand for? According to the founder of Shinrin Yoku Los Angeles Ben Page, “A nature walk’s objective is to provide informational content and a hike is to reach a destination, but a Shinrin-yoku walk’s objective is to give participants an opportunity to slow down, appreciate things that can only be seen or heard when one is moving slowly, and to take a break from stress.”
And these claims aren’t only hearsay and old wives’ tales. Many studies have dived deep into the matter of “forest bathing” and all of them came up with results that show the Shinrin-yoku actually works and gives palpable results.
As it happens, one of the biggest researches revolving around “forest bathing” was published in 2010 in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine and has included 24 Japan forests and the people who regularly walk there. It turns out that most (if not all) of them have a lower blood pressure and heart rate.
The Fundamental Rules
It might sound like it’s really simple, but there are actually a few guidelines that will help you experience “forest bathing” in the best way possible.
First of all, make sure you are completely disconnected from the outside world. Your phone, tablet, laptop, MP3 player, car and everything else that might usually occupy your thoughts don’t have a place on this walk, as it will only make your relaxation process harder.
Secondly, make sure to decide your own path. There is no one way to do Shinrin-yoku, so let your curiosity guide you as you soak up the sounds, images, and sensations of nature.
Finally, make sure to focus on your surroundings. Admire the trees and try to count the insects on the ground. Sit down on a rock in a quiet spot and listen to the song of the birds. Close your eyes and let the peace flow over you.
If you can’t find a forest where you can “forest bathe,” a local, quiet park is also a viable option as long as you can immerse yourself in it completely.