Updated: May 17, 2022
The Japanese Art of "Forest Bathing" is becoming increasingly popular in the West for improving mental health and chronic health conditions. Beginning in the 1980s, it rose to prominence in Japan as a way to prevent burnout in the workforce. But the roots of this practice go back much further in our history and are intimately tied to our biology as human beings.
What makes Forest Bathing different than a normal walk in the woods or nature hike is the emphasis on "bathing" your senses in Nature. In that way, it's more like an active form of meditation, a way to shut off one's frazzled mind and reconnect with what is present and right in front of you. You can try it out the next time you have a spare 15-30 minutes and find yourself in the woods, by the beach or anywhere else where you can reconnect with the natural world.
Let's say you are in the forest...slow down your pace and pay attention to what's going on around you. Look at the plants and other objects, both near and far away from you. Take some time to really look at things with new eyes, from the brilliant blue of the sky and the landscape to the intricate veins of a leaf on the ground. Next, you may notice the sounds around you. If you are by yourself you might be in silence but as time goes by, sounds will start to stand out. The crunch of gravel or leaves under your feet, the chirping of birds or the wind blowing through the trees. Try to separate the individual sounds out, then listen to the whole aural landscape and let it wash over you. There are many ways to come back to your senses and return to the quiet within yourself. Most of us live in cities or suburbs where it can be easy to go for stretches without being anywhere near ancient woodlands or shores. But in the end, we are all natural beings. Our biology developed in synch with these natural rhythms. This is why so many people find it peaceful and healing to commune with Nature in this way. We can return to Nature wherever we can find it, to reset and remember how it is to not be focused on work, phones and everything else that comes with our modern lifestyles. Instead of focusing on what needs to be done later or what could happen in a theoretical future, we can just be in the experience of being for a while. And by being more in our natural selves, we can get back to having more normal and natural functioning of the body and mind.
If you want to learn more about natural medicine and natural living, we invite you to book a free consultation with one of our licensed Naturopathic Doctors. Just call us at (415)-488-5831 or visit https://solsticenatmed.org for more information.