Do you know people who live in cities spending very little time with nature? And nature-based recreation has declined over the past 3 decades? That’s why the Japanese government invented the term shinrin-yoku , which literally translates to forest bathing, to encourage urbanites to soak in nature!
So what does forest bathing mean? You don’t just go off to the forest and strip! It means you spend time just soaking in nature by spending time in a forest: by walking around or sitting silently under the trees and listening to nature: birds chirping, gentle breeze moving the leaves. This feeling of relaxation relieves stress by acting on your nervous system and calming it down. Taking deep breathes of fresh air increases the oxygen circulating in your blood, giving you a heightened feeling. And being surrounded by the forest and nature soothes your mind and body, nature’s way of healing you.
In Buddhist and Shinto practices, followers are encourage to engage with nature by spending time in its midst. That’s why Japanese like to spend time walking through gardens that have flowing streams, rocks, miniature forests and more. Forest bathing gives you time to soak in nature and be awe-struck by simple things: like a butterfly sucking nectar from flowers or birds calling to each other with their chirps. This simple non-direction attention is referred to as mindful meditation. It helps you reflect on simple things of life and marvel at them.
The best way of doing this is to unplug from all your digital attachments for a few days: leave your phone, tablets, laptops behind: that e-mail reply to office query can wait, that What’s App forward can wait, writing LOL on your friend’s timeline on Facebook can wait. To practice forest bathing you need to see, hear, smell, feel and taste nature. Take a walk and look around and see the different shades of green in the forest; hear the sounds of birds, insects, animals; smell the wet earth, the moulding leaves, the smell of the flowers & trees; feel the bark, pick up a fallen leaf, and taste the forest (of course be careful what you eat).
Studies have shown that two to three days in nature like this can double your creativity! So what are you waiting for grab every opportunity to combine with nature!
(If you would like to experience three days in nature, without digital devices or electricity, join me on a camping trip near Rishikesh April 13-15. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for details)