“In 1982, the Forest Agency of the Japanese government premiered its shinrin-yoku plan. In Japanese shinrin means forest, and yoku, refers to a “bathing, showering or basking in.” It is defined as “taking in, in all of our senses, the forest atmosphere.” The program was established to encourage people to get out into nature, to literally bathe the mind and body in greenspace.”
Like many other things with nature, also forest bathing as a concept and technique, I got to know only after I had already intuitively learned to practice it while searching ways to feel better. Nowadays meetings with trees are a settled part of my everyday life.
When I notice myself stressed or anxious, I do like in Shinrin yoku; I connect with nature in the simplest possible way. I go to the forest, breathe deeply, and be at peace.
When I watched some time ago my first 360 videos, I thought how I hope that in the future I can learn more about forest bathing from Japanese themselves. I also thought about another thing. Or, better said, I noticed it. It is also present in this short porcini video.
(For the best experience, please watch this 360° video in Youtube app with virtual reality headset and remember to turn on HD! Tap on Youtube icon in the player below or open this link https://youtu.be/gNX7LdEOmpE in your Youtube app.)
The thing is that very often my forest bathing in Finland includes an extra element – wild food that is. Or if it’s not foraging, then it’s touching nature in some other way.
An important thing for my forest bathing experience has been to learn to let go and just be (or do things more in my own natural rhythm). However, as important thing has been to find the magic of touching, or even tasting the nature around.
It simply deepens your forest experience when you combine it with peaceful walking, listening nature sounds, and looking around.
There are a lot of forests in Japan so no shortage of places to do shrinrin yoku exists in the country.
The same is in Finland. But what is special globally here is that we have Everyman’s rights that allows you not only to walk freely in forests but also do things like foraging.
“Studies show forest bathing -shinrin yoku- or time spent in green spaces, can reduce the stress hormone cortisol, lower blood pressure and pulse rate and increase your immune defense system. (…) Spending time within a forest setting can also reduce psychological stress, depressive symptoms, and hostility, while at the same time improve sleep and increase both vigor and a feeling of liveliness. Besides eleveting mood states, studies have shown increased heart rate variability, which is a good thing because it means the circulatory system can to respond well to stress and can detect a dominance of the “calming” branch of the nervous system. (“Your Brain on Nature: Forest Bathing and Reduced Stress”, Mother Earth News.)
Over time many forms of forest bathing have been developed in different countries.
The one that includes also a sense of taste -like in the forms of wild berries-I would call Forest Bathing with a Finnish Twist.
Or if you can’t find or don’t know anything edible, the main thing is that you touch trees, leaves, rocks or whatever is easily available while “bathing” in the forest.
A direct skin contact with nature is important.
No matter you are alone, in a group or with your family or friends, put all your senses to use if possible in other words.
When you do that, the better possibilities nature has to heal and recharge you.
While watching my old 360°videos I also found this one where me and my family are picking lingonberries. The video made me laugh, but there’s also yet one more positive effect of forest bathing mentioned. I recommend to watch.
(For the best experience, please watch this 360° video in Youtube app with virtual reality headset and remember to turn on HD! Tap on Youtube icon in the player below or open this link https://youtu.be/IR3zEKhAi6E in your Youtube app.)
I also recommend this Mindfulness instruction article of mine, “When You Walk Feel Every Step” for those of you who are interested practicing forest bathing. Also there’s a short video with a relaxing music, so sit back and enjoy!
(Photos here are taken during our mushroom excursion with Saimi Hoyer in Punkaharju. More photos and 360°video of our excursion you find here.)