I took a forest bath & I liked it...
The Japanese call it forest bathing, which combines two concepts: a leisurely walk in the woods while breathing the aromatic scent of trees and nature. In fact, they are so fond of the activity that for more than four decades forest bathing has been hailed as a nationally recognized stress buster and relaxation activity in the country. Forest bathing is very much like hiking-- a long meditative walk in the woods. And of course, breathing in delicious scents of plants and nature is natural aromatherapy. Both activities have proven therapeutic effects in humans. Maybe doctors can start prescribing forest baths as part of any healing prescription in the U.S.
The science is there to prove the healthful benefits of being around nature, especially around plants and trees, oceans or rivers too! Studies have found that a long quiet walk in the woods lowers stress (cortisol) and blood pressure levels. Also the clean air and essential wood oils or phytoncides, the airborne chemicals that plant and trees emit to prevent rotting and protect themselves from insects, has found in studies to boost immunity.
Without really knowing the science behind the activity, I went on a languorous trek last week in one of the ten most beautiful hiking paths in the Northeast, Cold Spring, NY, with another adventurous forest goddess. It was magical, majestic and mystical. Seconds after stepping on the warm gravely path that led us up and around and eventually to a striking view of the majestic Hudson River I felt grounded. If you haven't read my piece on earthing, check it out. It was my first barefoot hike. And it won't be my last.
One of the side effects of hiking barefooted was a closer connection to my inner world. You know when the sages say that the universe resides inside each of us -- I experienced it! Deeply. I was even more present and mindful of what I was seeing, feeling, smelling and hearing. Each step I took was a glorious moment. Seriously. Going barefooted forced me to employ all the senses. And sensing all the terrains under my feet and around me was new and glorious -- pebbles and rocks, moist earth, damp moss, dry and wet leaves, branches, grass, pieces of wood, wet muddy soil, dry earth, and sand. Simply delicious. The walk opened me up and awakened everything inside. I experienced a deeper sense of connection to nature and me. Weirdly, the closer connection I have to me and to nature, the closerit seems I get to the world outside me.
To enjoy a forest bath you don't need to go bare footed, which I agree, is a bit hard core for beginners, like me. But if you can handle part of your walk in the woods bare feet, I highly encourage to give it a try.
This weekend you are looking to get grounded, or want to feel replenished and rejuvenated, you might want to put a forest bath in your to do. Here are some pics of my recent forest bath.