We humans are increasingly becoming indoor species. We spend 90% of our life indoor. And, on average, we dedicate eight hours a day looking at screens. But our body, or in other words human biology, likes being in nature, especially in forests.
Our indoor and urban lifestyle has resulted in an increase of nature-deficit disorder, especially in children, affecting behaviour and mood, and often associated with depression, anxiety, and poor concentration. We too often forget that we are part of nature, that we need it. It’s coded into us.
Forest bathing improves our wellbeing
Forest Bathing is all about finding strength, peace, and beauty in our surroundings. It benefits our mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. It is perfect for anyone aspiring to slow down, be more mindful, and connect with something greater.
How to forest bathe
Find a place
It doesn’t have to be pristine wilderness; a local park will suffice. If you do live near a forest, or even a stand of trees, all the better. Choosing somewhere close by is also a good idea because then you will be more likely to visit it.
Be tech free
Just for forest bathing, leave all your technology at home; don’t let anything get between you and nature.
Forget following your usual A to B route. Instead, walk slowly and without a goal or destination in mind. Notice where and what you feel drawn to, perhaps a large old tree, or a small stream. Find where feels good. Idyll there.
Once you’ve found a spot to idyll in, begin to tune in on a sensory level. What do you smell, hear, taste, see, and feel? Observe as much as you can. Feel the ground underneath your feet, notice all the shades of green, and appreciate the texture of tree bark with your hands. What insects and animals can you see?
Rest on the earth
Weather permitting, sit or lie down on the ground and rest. Observe nature, all of its activity and movement that we are usually too preoccupied to notice. This simply, shows us we already have everything we need—if we just let ourselves be held by the ground and breathe. This experience is a true experience of inner contentment.
Try this Pranayama Breathing Yoga: slowly breath in counting to 8, hold your breath counting to 4, slowly breath out counting to 8, hold empty lungs counting to 4. Repeat the 8-48-4 Savitri for a couple of times. You can walk or sit for this practice. This helps to release tension.
Benefits of forest bathing
There have been many scientific studies done on the benefits of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. Some of these studies have found the following benefits:
- Reduced stress
- Improved mood
- Increased energy level
- Improved sleep
- Boosted immune system functioning,
- Reduced blood pressure
- Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
- Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
All of these benefits seem a little abstract. In terms of our everyday experience, regular forest bathing will help us feel more connected to our life and the people around us. It helps to cultivate intuition and creativity. Perhaps even more important, it will give us a deeper appreciation for this beautiful planet we live on, and how important it is we take care of it.