Recently, much has been written about Shinrin yoku as Westerners pick up this Japanese idea of turning to the forest for therapeutic benefits. As the temperatures climbed into the 40s today, my Wellness class and I wove our way through icy puddles to Deering Oaks Park to do our own mini bath experience.
I had the group stand facing outwards in a circle and pick a tree nearby to examine. I asked them to notice the texture of the tree, look up to the top, and observe the shapes of the branches. I had them close their eyes and listen to the sound of the wind rush around us (and the traffic… the park is right beside an interstate). I asked them to notice the sensation of the wind on their skin. For just a few minutes, you could feel the group settle into silence. The relaxation was palpable.
Even if you can’t get away to the forest, find yourself a tree. Take a few minutes to completely take it in, from top to bottom. Then, use all of your senses to take in your surroundings… the sunshine or light drizzle against your skin, the rustle of a scampering squirrel nearby. Feel your cortisol levels even out as the natural world washes over you.