While I enjoy going for walks in nature, I didn’t realize that I was participating in a Japanese wellness tradition called Shrinrin Roku (forest bathing).
The process is simple. Find a forest, walk through the forest, and experience the forest with all of your senses. Breathing deeply, staying in the moment and allowing your senses to guide you. This is not about a strenuous hike, but rather a wander through nature to connect deeper within yourself and release the stress of our everyday lives.
Many of us stay active by walking because we know that it is good for our health, but forest bathing has many more ways to help your body than you may realize. It can:
- Reduce Stress
- Improve Sleep
- Lower blood pressure
- Increase your immune system
- Accelerate recovery from injury
- Increase energy
- Overall increase in happiness
One study published in 2011 compared the effects of walking in the city and in the forest. For each activity, the physical exertion was the same, but researchers found that the forest atmosphere led to more significant reductions in blood pressure and certain stress hormones.
I recently went on an amazing wander with my family to Sundew Bog, a beautiful location near the Strathcona Park Lodge in Campbell River BC. This excerpt from their website beautifully describes this incredible place.
The Sundew Bog
When the glaciers retreated thousands of years ago they left behind huge depressions, which filled with water. Over the years, sediment and plants grew and a “floating forest” with a unique ecosystem of parasitic plants, anaerobic waters and varied wildlife was created. Jump up and down to see the trees move, hunt for the meat eating sundew plants and listen to the frogs croak. The bog is an easy and flat 25 minute hike, one way, from the Lodge.
You don’t have to travel far to experience the benefits of forest bathing, any natural setting will do. I challenge you to do this once a week and see the changes in your body and your mind.
“You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.” Alan Watts