Shinrin Yoku is the Japanese name for an Ecotherapy technique translated into “Forest Bathing.” This is also considered “horticultural therapy” and “grounding.” Research is inconclusive as to the how and the why this is therapeutic for people and may fall into the realm of “placebo” effects by rigid scientific thinking. So what if it is placebo… But, hanging out in nature is complicated (in all the many variables) and therapeutic. What do you “Know” about the positive effects of hanging out in a natural scene like a forest or a beach or a trail through the mountains?
Walking through a natural setting is good for you physically because you are getting exercise, burning calories, and assisting your parasympathetic nervous system response. Hiking in nature assists you mentally as a break from man made technology, with natural lighting & colors, and perhaps distance from “positive ions” in favor of calming, “negative ions.” Drifting, one step at a time, along a path contributes to the spiritual process of “grounding” where you release excess energy into the Earth, connects you with the natural Universe, and offers you the opportunity to witness first hand the Miracles of Life on our planet. As you breathe in the freshly oxygenated forest air, you are free from the human made confines of vehicles or manufactured homes.
Perhaps the best, possibly placebo, effect you can connect with nature and the Divine Spirit firsthand. Not in theory or in books or on TV… You, yes YOU, are a firsthand “experiencer” of the wonders of the natural world from where we have evolved (or created) and where natural appreciating rebalances our hearts, our minds, and our bodies. Not everyone loves being out in nature. These people are wrong! (Notice my “Judgement” with feeling…) Nature is found in every cell of our bodies and a lack of appreciation, to me, is like a denial of our living roots. (Obviously, my judgements are a topic for other blog postings or even many past postings.)
Forest Bathing is an activity I celebrate on a regular basis. A walk in the trees changes me in positive ways where I can relax and be more present. I release stress and drink in the amazing features of the natural world. This feels healing. Mind, body and spirit celebrate these moments and this effort in reconnecting with my natural worldly existence. With some small amount of distance from the trailhead, I can feel the Zen meditation (Za Zen) taking form. If I can be mentally “present,” I can begin to connect with this environment and many times I connect with my intuition as I feel my “essence” in the natural world.
Most people find solace in trips into natural environments. Being by water or trees or rocky monoliths offers a needed break from crowded frenetic man-made environments. “Getting away from it all” is a common expression suggesting the healing benefits of getting away from urban areas and back “out” into nature. Even a visit to a beautiful park or garden can help trigger this ecotherapy. For stress management and anxiety control, (unless you are afraid of open spaces – agoraphobia) your time in nature is more than just relaxing. It is invigorating and recharging you with the natural “life force.”
Obviously, as I write this posting, I am a “believer” in the positive effects which a walk in a natural environment can bring to me. I schedule this into my life. For me, a spiritual experience is a part of this attraction though this can be subtle or dramatic. When I cross paths with an animal or a huge Cedar tree or flowing stream/river, my heart celebrates this gift to me and my consciousness. I am spoiled because I am living in the Pacific NorthWest and when I roll out my front door, I am only a few steps from being enveloped in natural beauty. This choice to live in PNW was partially a conscious one and partially driven by my guidance BUT fully loved and appreciated.
So, go have a Forest Bath. YOU deserve it! Feel the Earth beneath your feet as you tread in the natural world. Be present. Be grounded. Be blessed to resonate in the natural rhythms you can experience. YOU are a miracle. Thank you for walking the Earth and sharing your spirit…