Forest Bathing. What a great term for swimming naked in the woods.
Reasonable enough assumption given the new wave of outdoor activity trends such as ‘wild swimming’ which became a thing despite the fact that humans throughout our existence have been finding waterfalls, rivers and billabongs and taking a dip.
Nothing could be further from the truth, Forest Bathing is not a fleeting cultural phrase but a learned technique to let nature, nurture you.
Its not a walk, a hike or even technically exercise but rather a sensory journey invigorating your sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch to bring you closer to the natural world. In Germany, where it originated, it is known as “Waldtherapie”, in Korea it is referred to as “Sanlimyok (산림욕)”, in China and Taiwan people call it “Sēnlín liáofǎ (森林療法)” and in Japan where it has gained international media it is called “Shinrin-yoku” (森林浴) or “Shinrin-ryōhō (森林療法)”, Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku meaning “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses.
The trend is growing with accredited professionals now mastering the art of this mindful and wellbeing practise so much so that in a few years experts predict its popularity will equal time-tested yoga and meditation as primary relaxation options. In Australia we have only a handful of accredited professionals who practise this wellbeing technique and I am delighted that we have been able to include Forest Bathing into Wildfest this year thanks to Christie Little at Frontier Wellbeing. Studies are showing it has real health benefits.
So what is it all about? This is about listening to nature, taking in the sounds of the forest, feeling the clean fresh air on your skin and in your lungs, taking in the scent of the trees, feeling soil and water underfoot and the texture of bark. A guide helps you block out all other thoughts, leave work behind, push stress aside and slow down enough to let your senses start to work so you can focus on where you are. Some cleaver techniques and targeted activities to kick off your Forest Bathing adventure and you finish with a tea ceremony.
And where is it all going? You relax, you inhale phytoncides, the fresh air lowers your blood pressure, you create endorphins and it all leads us to a sense of wellbeing as you let nature in and start on your path to happiness. Seems pretty simple really and as you get better and better at it, you benefit more and more.
Time to activate your sixth sense and let nature change your state of mind.
For the first time in the Southern Highlands you can try Forest Bathing with a qualified instructor at our annual festival.
Go to Wildfest for more information