The art of forest bathing

Forests, those mysterious environments to which almost magical properties have been attributed since ancient times, origin of legends and mythological creatures, revered and mistreated in equal parts. What do we really know about the magnificent creatures that inhabit them, the trees?

Today I want to talk to you about seeing the usual things with new eyes, enjoying the present or what is known as mindfulness. How the environment affects us.

And how sometimes, as they say in Mary Poppins, we miss what is right in front of our noses. Looking at something doesn’t mean seeing it. We take so much for granted…

I have recently read two books that made me think. One is “Shinrin-yoku. The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing” and the other is “The Secret Life of Trees”.

To me they have made me think beyond how to better enjoy nature and its bounties. They have made me discover new ways of looking at my surroundings.

 

Forest bathing could be considered a form of meditation in motion. And it is not quite the same as hiking. It is not about speed, or following specific routes, but about enjoying the path, and soaking in the positive energy that nature exerts on us. The benefits of the so-called “forest baths” have been researched in Japan over the past century to the point that they are now recognized therapies. Mainly for nervous conditions, stress… The book talks about how our increasingly urban environments exert an influence, not always good, on our mood.

I am lucky enough to live close to nature, and doing a little more research on forest bathing has helped me to make better use of it.

Which brings us to the second book. “The Secret Life of Trees.” I don’t know if it has happened to you, but I don’t usually stop to think much about trees, as if they are nothing more than inanimate beings.

Have you ever wondered if trees feel when we touch them? If they communicate or help each other? If they are sensitive to their environment? Even if two trees of the same species can have different behaviors, let’s say different “personalities”?

In this book its author, a forestry agent, answers through several studies many questions and hidden curiosities about these exceptional beings.

Sadly, it has also made me see urban vegetation with different eyes and think that, like us sometimes, some trees are isolated, lonely and trapped in the asphalt. Because if they don’t live in community and tuck each other in, they easily languish.

 

 

 

In short, we sometimes overlook what’s right in front of us. But if we learn to open our eyes wide, even everyday things hold surprises.

 

 

 

Keys to take a good forest bath:

(you can find more detailed information in the books I mention).

  1. Go with no rush, and without a fixed path. Let yourself wander, observe what crosses your path, take a deep breath and relax. Whether it is a particularly beautiful clearing, a butterfly among the flowers or how the rays of light filter through the leaves.
  2. No cell phones, no photos, the idea is to be in the present moment.
  3. Do not think or talk about stressful topics. Try to disturb the environment as little as possible, without making too much fuss, mimetize.

 

This images and text belong to me. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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