On the Winter Solstice of December 2019 I had the pleasure of joining Jen from Lakeland Wellbeing on a forest bathing experience with my little dog Lil.
I want to start the post with Jen’s description of Forest bathing….
Forest bathing or Shinrin Yoku is a natural wellbeing therapy, originating from Japan. It means forest ‘bathing’ or ‘basking’ or quite literally ‘taking in, in all of our senses, the forest atmosphere’.
The scientifically proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku include:
- Boosted immune system functioning
- Reduced blood pressure and pulse rate
- Increased heart variabilty which means our cirulatory system can respond well to stress
- Reduced stress (lower levels of cortisol)
- Improved mood
- Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
- Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
- Increased energy level
- Improved sleep
Changing our environment, practicing mindfulness and being able to step away from our busy lives into the peace and quiet of the forest are part the magic of Shinrin-Yoku but scientists say these benefits are also down to;
- Inhaling phytoncides, essential oils emitted by the trees
- Exposure to negative ions in the atmosphere
- Good bacteria in the forest environment
Many people I told that I was going forest bathing thought it was a bath in a forest in the middle of winter – but it has nothing to do with water. During my experience we walked mindfully through the forest taking in all the sights, textures, colours and more. Walking really slowly and peacefully. We then gathered in the forest to do some exploring alone and we went through a guided meditation whilst lying on mats looking up at the tree tops.
We then gathered around a fire when it went dark and did a little winter solstice ceremony, burning what we wanted to let go of that year and thinking about what we wanted more of.
We finished of with hot drinks and marshmallows on the fire and a chat with a lovely group of people.
I really enjoyed the day as it helped me to make some space for myself and connect with nature. Being someone who is with my kids a lot and running a business I have very little time to myself outdoors. I have plenty of time with my kids within nature, but the alone time outside was really revitalising and Jen was a wonderful forest bathing guide. I really recommend it for an outdoors experience to help you relax into and connect with the outdoors and come away with a feeling of inner peace.