Science has proven what you have intuitively known all along.
That there is a medicinal element to being out in nature.
This type of medicine can’t be replicated in a laboratory or made into pill form no matter how hard one tries.
You breathe in, You breathe out, an exchange as ancient as time.
You feel connected once your senses come alive and you remember who you are.
This week on the Unconventional Life show is Julia Plevin. She is an eco-spiritual guide, founder of the Forest Bathing Club and author of the book “The Healing Magic of Forest Bathing: Finding Calm, Creativity, and Connection in the Natural World”. Julia has a decade of guiding people into the forest to reconnect with their spirit and physically heal themselves. Julia shares what exactly forest bathing is and gives guidelines on how you can start your own forest bathing practice.
Shinrin-yoku aka Forest Bathing
Shinrin- Yoku is a Japanese phrase that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” This term was coined in the ’80s when researchers discovered the plethora of positive effects from being out in nature.
The idea of forest bathing is simply being in nature and connecting with nature through your senses. Hearing the waves crash on the shore, the sweet scent of a flower, the prickly grass on your feet and the breeze through your hair. Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.
As media use reaches new levels of intensity, this gap between us and the natural world is larger than ever. According to A Decade of Digital Dependency, it’s estimated that people check their phones on average every 12 minutes and spend 87% of their life indoors!
It’s clear that we stare at screens more than sunsets and drastically need to flip this equation!
Forest Bathing 101
Go outside, Let your intuition guide you to a quiet place outdoors. This might be under a tree, in a forest, in the direct sunlight or in a shady grove. Traditionally the forest is the preferred method but anywhere in nature is beneficial.
Give an offering. Humans take from the earth on a daily basis but how often does one give back? Some traditional methods are offering tobacco, corn kernels or flowers as an act of gratitude or appreciation. Or more actionable like offering your time during a beach or river clean up.
Ground down. Living in this digital age, we are exposed to very high levels of positive ions from the use of electronic devices. When these positive ions interact with our bodies they cause negative health effects. This is one time we don’t want positivity in our lives 😉
The term “Grounding” is used when you connect your feet or skin to the earth. Research indicates that “grounding the human body may be an essential element in the health equation along with sunshine, clean air and water, nutritious food, and physical activity.” So take off those shoes and walk on the earth to get your daily dose of negative ions in your body.
Release heavy emotions. “While in nature, pick up a leaf or stick and think of something that is causing you anxiety or stress, put those emotions into that object and then give it back to the earth.” Do you find yourself ever holding onto unnecessary emotions, keeping them bottled up inside which cause more stress in the long term? This practice allows the earth to compost what we no longer need to hold onto. When you connect with nature in this way “you are reminded that you are apart of something larger.”
Take deep breaths. The trees and plants release a natural essential oil called Phytoncides. When we breathe these essential oils in we increase our level of white blood cells which fight off tumors growth and other infected cells. Take time to breathe in the natural healing apothecary of the forest.
Appreciate the silence. One of the downsides of urban living is the constant noise. Silence is restorative and forests can have many healing sounds – the rustling of leaves, water running down a creek, the song of birds. Being in silence allows all the senses to come alive, this redirection of focus turns off the logical left brain and gives the creative right brain an opportunity land and flourish.
“These are all practices of being in right relations with the earth. So much of our anxiety and physical health issues comes from a disconnection from nature. This is a practice of healing ourselves by learning to connect to nature.”
“You didn’t come into this world.
You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean.
You are not a stranger here”
- Alan Watts
Head over to Forest Bathing Club to sign up for the newsletter and upcoming events