The Japanese are very cognizant of nature, it’s value and connection to their own well-being. Many traditions in Japan involve appreciating and connecting with nature in it’s various seasons and representations. Honouring the gifts from nature, understanding humanity’s role within nature and nature’s essential role in ensuring humanity’s health and happiness. From natural environments to beautifully designed gardens, the Japanese love of nature is evident.
A recent trend within the last 30 years based on Shinto and Buddhist philosophy is something called “forest-bathing” or Shinrin-Yoku where you immerse yourself in the woods letting the energy and spirit of the place seep into your soul bringing peace, centredness and calm to your overstimulated senses. We are meant to dwell within nature, not apart from it in man-made cities with unrelenting amounts of noise, pollution and constant stimulation. Large cities in particular with an unending amount of traffic, streetlights, advertising signs, airplanes and so on provide a person without the means to truly relax and recover, essentially leaving us in constant stress. Add to that the peaks we experience during this time of year – the holidays – the traffic jams, the crush of shoppers, social events, school exams, home pressures and we are simply overwhelmed by stress. The result is ill-health for both us and our planet that is prevalent today.
So take a moment, read the articles below on forest-bathing from Mother Nature Network and Outside Magazine and see if you can find a way to bring forest-bathing into your life. Take some trail mix, a thermos of hot drinks if you live in a northern climate or a cool one if you live where it is warmer and head to the woods for a much needed break from the holiday chaos. One of my favourite areas is a place called Hilton Falls along the Niagara Escarpment in Milton, Ontario about 25 minutes from my home but I also enjoy a walk in the woods just down the road from my house. If you forest-bathe, let us know your favourite place by posting a comment.