Shinrin Yoku is the Japanese practice of forest bathing, or nature therapy. It has been practiced for generations under many names, and it is a wonderful example of science and spirituality coming together. We have known, almost instinctively, that being amongst trees in a woodland or forest, feels good for our state of mind.
Science is supporting our instinctive feeling about trees
science has recently been reporting studies that back this up, showing positive implications for our mental and physical wellbeing. Take a look at a couple of them here: https://nhsforest.org/evidence-benefits and https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/07/09/scientists-have-discovered-that-living-near-trees-is-good-for-your-health/
There is a wonderful Welsh saying, : “dod yn ol at fy nghoed” which means ‘to return to a balanced sate of mind”. The literal translation is ‘to return to my trees’. I have certainly found that time in the trees here, even in such a small woodland, has a powerful impact on my sense of calm. I am naturally drawn to the woodland when I feel pressure at work or am not sure about where to focus my energy. Twenty minutes does seem to be perfect for me, and I find clarity returns.
The woodlands bring different sensations for every visitor
When you stay in our Charcoal Hut, you are free to spend time in the woodland, sitting by the pond and listening to water over the rocks. Or under one of the larger trees, where the sound of wind in the leaves and branches is almost primitive. A guest recently commented that listening to the woods was like listening to sea shells, and it seemed to connect her with ancestors. I was very moved by her experience.
When I sit with trees, and just look at what goes on in the woods, my pace seems to shift inside. I notice my breathing and heart rate slow down, to the point of feeling deeply relaxed and this can be a great benefit for daily meditation. There are some beautiful, private places within the woods for Yoga, stretch or meditation. At dusk, when the trees catch the last of the sun, it is truly glorious.
I’d love to hear about your experiences of Shinrin yoku, and what impact it has had on you.