Forest bathing is the practice of taking a leisurely walk in a forest for health benefits. The phrase ties back to Japan, and was popularized in the 1980s as a nod to Zen Buddhism and Shintoism. This practice was in response to rising illness in the overworked population, and was used to balance stress caused by extreme structure, overwhelming life conditions, and traumas caused by natural disasters (a rising issue related to climate change)
Photo by Natasha Jain @asha_art.n.soul
Transform your hike into a walking meditation
Forest bathing is proven by scientists to benefit physical as well as mental health, helping to lower heart rate, blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost immunity and mood and improve overall feelings of wellbeing. The art of healing in nature is an ancient method practiced around the globe, by grounding the self in presence, we allow for stressed portions of the brain and mind to relax.
Try moving in slow silence for 20 minutes, calmly listening to the sounds of the forest. If you don’t have access to a forest, you can go to a park, a field, a meadow or yard or garden; nature is all around us. The only requirements are patience, curiosity and an open mind. Be present, allow, let the environment be the focus as well as the teacher. Photographer and Nomad @shantijain recommends hiking right after a rainfall. The air is filled with the divine smell of the trees, akin to walking through a bottle of essential oil mist.
The elements that make up Nature
Remember that Trees are sentient, live beings, and upon entering their home, we gain access to a whole encyclopedia of knowledge. The Akasha rests in their pillars of knowledge. Flowing creeks usher forward emotionality, new life in its healing waters. Wind wisps hopes and dreams into spaces where the living and ancestors intersect. Sun peers through the forest cover drying the dank soil, evaporating mist and mineral data particles back to air once again, charging our batteries, promoting nutrients and regenerating stem cells. The forest is a womb, and nature It’s miracle.
In our society, we have forgotten that we are part of the landscape, and the wellbeing of our planet is a marker of how safe a population is. No matter how intelligent the specimen, collectively we have been in a cycle of darkness and ignorance. Wisdom is either inherited or acquired through the channel of relation. Reestablishing a relationship with our living home, is how we step back from societal norms in order to gain clarity around the reality of climate change, shining a light on the value of indigenous and nomadic ways of life, and ultimately each doing our part to shift the trajectory of the issues that harm the environment and strengthen fragile ecosystems.
Conifer trees emit compounds that support blood cells which fight cancer, tumors and infection. Healing with this practice is known as Tree-bathing. Nature is holistic, it maintains positive effects on the mind that affect the body instantly. Movement tones the lungs, brain, heart, concentration, focus and memory that stagnation depresses. Known to boost immunity and shorten illness, amplified recovery from surgery, illness or injury. Heavy toxicity in the mind as well as body suppress the immune system, leaving our boundaries, defenses and peace of mind vulnerable to outside forces.
Long Term Benefits
When challenges arise in life, we are able to meet them with greater tranquility. Every moment is fleeting, transient, moving. When we learn to accept the impermanence of environmental phases, we gain stability in our nervous systems, being able to find more peace amongst chaos. Movement animates our energy centers, improving circulation and breaking up stagnation (the toxic load caused by, trauma, chemicals, additives and pollutants). Reduces mental distraction, unlocks feel-good hormones, and allows us to more easily access the stored wisdom it takes to craft solutions rather than fall prey to our fears of the future (anxiety) or reimagining hardships of our past (depression).
Find peace and happiness in the present moment
Learn to ease unwanted thoughts
Improve clarity regarding questions and decisions
Curb stress and burnout
Improved sleep and rest
Promote positive hormone release
Boost immunity and healing
lower heart rate and blood pressure
Amplify instincts and ground the body
Photo by Natasha Jain @asha_art.n.soul
Pushing through discomfort or disruption
The polarity to technology, nature is a reality check. A reminder to push through discomfort or disruption. The forest provides the light to spark new insights and lessons, providing a deeper understanding of life. It is the beginning of a journey into trust and self-discovery. As technology grows, our dependency will grow greater. How do you strike a balance?
To sum it up
When we engage all of our senses, and find presence, it serves as a path to unearthing from where we came, and reestablishing a sense of belonging. The forest is full of teachers, our original classroom. It is our birthright to come home again, to breathe amongst the elders of the forest. There is a reciprocal healing in this exchange. A gateway to stewardship, and appreciation for the land and it’s profound medicine. Every being, including the trees, has an inner child, and it is from that place of freedom, respect and mutual fascination, that we are able to learn from the land, building trust in our ability to take up space outdoors, in turn building trust once again.
Words + Photography by Natasha Jain © 2021 @asha_art.n.soul