Do you have a hard time connecting with yoga or meditation? Try forest bathing.
One of the simplest, most accessible and widespread (consciously or unconsciously) mindfulness practices is forest bathing. Where does it come from?
The term emerged in the 80s in Japan as a physiological and psychological exercise that consisted of immersing yourself in the forest to mindfully connect with it. This activity had a dual purpose. On the one hand, to offer a natural antidote to the exhaustion suffered by the population, and on the other hand, to bring the country's forests closer to its inhabitants so that they could appreciate and protect them. In fact, the original name in Japanese is “shinrin-yoku”, which literally means "absorbing the atmosphere of the forest".
You may have walked in the forest thousands of times and know it inside out, but not really experienced forest bathing. What does it consist of?
The key to this activity lies in how you approach the forest and not so much where or how often you do it. Forest bathing is an invitation to immerse yourself in its depth with all your senses awake. The goal is to consciously and intentionally connect with the life around you.
This practice can be done intuitively on your own, but if you want to explore its full potential, we recommend doing it with certified guides. Through simple exercises and invitations, such as paying attention when walking, tuning your ears or interacting with the plants around you, these guides help you awaken your senses, fine-tune them and feel the heartbeat of the forest.
Those who experience it usually point to several benefits and surprises:
1. Emotional connection with the forest: Seeing and feeling it for the first time.
We rarely immerse ourselves in the forest with full attention and the intention of connecting with it. This causes that when we intentionally do it, every tiny detail supposes a discovery for us at a visual, auditory and tactile level. You may have walked through forests every day of your life, but how many times have you stopped to observe every detail and let yourself be carried away by it? Those who experience forest bathing affirm that it is as if they had seen and felt the forest for the first time.
Another aspect that they point out is that they feel that they develop an emotional union with the forest. Throughout the activity you create a connection with it thanks to the attention you pay to everything you find. This attention triggers a series of feelings of admiration and connection with the forest, forming an emotional bond with it that makes you appreciate the richness of life that exists within it and within you.
2. Impact on your physical well-being
The effect of the sessions is usually immediate. As the practice progresses and you immerse yourself in the forest, you feel more relaxed with your body. In fact, scientific studies show how those who participate experience an improvement in the perception of their physical condition, showing a progressive and significant decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, feeling more vital and vigorous.
3. Impact on your emotional well-being
One of the most important effects of forest bathing takes place on our emotions. Experts have shown that this practice is capable of reducing anxiety, depression and anger among the people who participate. In fact, in Japan and other countries, forest bathing is prescribed as a therapy to calm our emotional state and find peace with oneself. We are witnesses of this in Rooral, since this is one of the favorite activities of the participants, who affirm that the practice leads them to perceive a sensation of deep tranquility and alignment.
4. Sleep more and better
Surprisingly one of the benefits is the improvement in sleep. A study by Japanese Dr. Li looked at whether forest bathing could improve sleep patterns among middle-aged workers in Tokyo who were sleep deficient. In the study he created two groups: one made up of workers who walked in the forest, and another who walked through the city. This study found that participants who walked through the woods were significantly less anxious, slept better, and slept longer than those who walked through the city. Interestingly, too, the researchers found that evening walks were even more beneficial than morning walks.
5. Impact on people with mental health problems
Studies carried out by AVIFES, an organization for the care and improvement of mental health, overwhelmingly show that people with mental illness who participate in forest baths feel a general improvement in their mood. In addition, slightly more than half usually find themselves with greater strength and energy after the sessions, feeling that the usual symptoms of reluctance and demotivation are reduced. Finally, it should be noted that practically the majority experience an improvement in their interpersonal relationships, enjoying the people they have around them more.
In a world where it is unfortunately more and more common to feel dazed, tired and unstable, nature reaffirms itself as the perfect ally to connect with our well-being.
Do you dare to experience it?