Forest bathing or shinrin-yoku means to bathe in a forest atmosphere and to connect with ourselves and the earth, through all of our senses.
The fundamental issue underlying addiction, anxiety, childhood trauma, depression, disordered eating, relationship concerns, global warming – is disconnection – from ourselves, from others, from Mother Earth.
Somewhere in our early lives, the connection wasn’t secure or there. Or maybe it got lost somewhere along the way.
Forest bathing is one way to foster connection.
Each week when my children are at swimming tuition, I walk in Stoney Range Botanical Gardens. It is a small bushland hidden just off one of the noisiest roads on the Northern Beaches. Once inside, you can’t even hear the nearby traffic – just the birds and the trees.
Walking in the woods on Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park back in my early recovery days in London, and now in the Aussie bush, is an essential part of my self-connection and self-care routine.
The further along my trauma and disordered eating recovery I get (25 years!), the more I appreciate how self-care (love in action) has to be a priority, alongside building awareness.
We can learn so much about ourselves by spending time in nature.
For example, since when is a tree perfectly formed? If the tree is not perfect, do we pump it with Botox or tell it to change its shape? Do we give it a Khloe Kardashian shake to help it lose weight? Do we starve it of nourishment?
Of course not.
By spending time with just one tree – it can teach us that we are perfectly imperfect, just as we are!
Try the same forest walk for a year – it teaches us about change. Notice how the trees change:
-In Autumn – we learn about death and dying
-In Winter – there is shadow and darkness
-In Spring – it reminds us of hope and renewal
-In Summer – we enjoy the warmth of the sun on our skin
In FOREST BATHING: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness by Dr. Qing Li suggests some ways to forest bathe:
- forest walking
- eating in the forest
- hot-spring therapy
- Tai chi
- breathing exercises
- art classes
- Nordic walking
- plant and wildlife observation
You can forest-bathe anywhere in the world – wherever there are trees; in hot weather or in cold; in rain, sunshine or snow. You don’t even need a forest. Once you have learned how to do it, you can do shinrin-yoku anywhere – in a nearby park or in your garden. Look for a place where there are trees, and off you go!
If there is one positive thing to take from the current world crisis – it is to slow down and connect.
In the next few days – see if you can get out in nature. Take a problem with you and ask the tree for advice.
“Tree, I’ve been dieting for years, I am too fat, I am too ugly, I am not as beautiful as that other girl on Instagram, what advice do you have for me?”
Let the tree speak from itself.
The advice I have for you today is…..
Do come back and let us know what the tree says 🙂