Image of the woods in summer
Kate Brown

Kate Brown

What’s Forest Bathing all about?

What is Forest Bathing?

Forest Bathing is the English translation of shinrin yoku, a Japanese relaxation method that started the 1980s. It has nothing to do with swimming, doesn’t involve a swimming costume and, unless it’s raining, will not result in you getting wet! It is basically spending time mindfully in nature, by engaging your senses whilst being in woodland.
looking up through oak leaves towards to the sky

Why should I bother doing it?

Since the 1990s the physiological effects of this practice on humans has been scientifically studied. Research has shown a wide range of health benefits from forest bathing, including decreased stress, improved mood states, a variety of mental health benefits, improved vigor, reduced fatigue and feelings of awe.

The phytoncides (the wood oils, ‘the aroma of the forest’) have also been shown to boost human immune function by increasing numbers of white killer cells in the blood.

So for better mental and physical health, which could ultimately result in a longer, happier, more active life, it’s definitely worth giving Forest Bathing a try.

How do I Forest Bathe?

Forest Bathing is about mindfully engaging your senses whilst being in a woodland setting.

To start, this means slowing right down and turning off all your electronic devices!
Forest bathing is not a hike, run or exercise activity. It is a connection activity, and connection requires a slower pace.

To slow down and be really present in the moment can be tricky, so Forest Bathing instructs us to use our 5 main senses to help with this.

When you really notice the colours, shapes, movement of the trees and leaves, the play of dapped sunlight across the woodland floor, you’re engaging your sight.

When you listen to the birdsong, the grasshoppers, the rustle of the wind through the leaves, the dash and leap of a squirrel along a tree branch, the gurgle of a stream, you’re engaging your hearing.

When you touch the leaves, bark, truck on a tree (even give it a hug!), notice the sponginess and springiness of the forest floor underfoot, feel the breeze on your skin, or notice the temperature change as you walk in and out of patches of sunlight, you’re engaging your sense of touch.

When you breathe slowly and deeply, you’re engaging the rest and digest parasympathetic nervous system. You’re also breathing in the oxygen rich air, laden with phytoncides, smelling the aroma of the forest, the rich humous of the soil, the pollen of the tree flowers, the algae on the stones in the stream and engaging your sense of smell.

You can engage taste within the woodland deliberately by brining something to eat and drink, eating edible elements of the woodland that you know are safe, or by tasting the air as you breathe it in.

All of these practices require you to slow down, stop often and wander at will, often without a predetermined destination, in order to keep yourself truly present in this moment. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is the aim of meditation, so forest bathing is a form of meditation too.

When you stay in the present moment, you’re no longer thinking about the past, future or what you think I think of you. You’re out of the default mode network. This allows you to access the field of infinite possibilities and unlock creativity, innervation, renewal and perspective shifts through the feeling states of joy, love, awe, gratitude, stillness and calm.

With all this comes the corresponding reduction in cortisol (the stress hormone) and an increase in oxytocin (the happy love hormone), which are thought to be the basis for most of the health benefits listed above.

girl hugging tree in woodlands

To get a bit woo….

And then of course there’s the vibration.

Everything vibrates. Literally everything. And of course trees and humans are no exception.

When you go into woodland spaces, you start to resonate with the vibration of the natural world, which is the natural vibrational state of your lower alpha/high theta brain frequencies.

Being in these brain frequencies helps bring you into states of deep relaxation, similar to meditation, and helps you connect to energies not usually picked up on with our five senses.

Unfortunately, we’re often kept out of these brain vibrational frequencies by living in our fast paced, technologically driven world, and not everyone finds it easy to enter meditative states at first.

Knowing that being out in a woodland setting for 2 hours has these effects is another explanation of how and why we leave woodlands feeling far more relaxed than we entered!

someone walking between tree on a path in the distance in a woodland

Forest Bathing Experiences

You can forest bathe by yourself, or in groups.

I am running a forest bathing experience on Tuesday 20th July 2021.

During this 2 hour holistic session, you will have the opportunity to be led in some group forest bathing, have time to solo forest bathe and take part in group meditation and circles.

The connection to others in community that this session affords is also a really important part of what’s been missing for so many of us over the past 16 months.

Humans are tribal animals, and we work better in community.

Shared positive experiences bond us, and help us fulfil our deep need for belonging.

Circle and ceremony feed parts of our psyche often overlooked in modern western culture.

So this forest bathing experience provides it all!

Come along and join us for 2 glorious hours in woodland, connecting to yourself, the trees and your fellow group forest bathers through the energy web of life.

More information and tickets are available through this link:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/156659190857

Close up of Kate smiling and lying on the grass

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