Forest Bathing,or Shinrin-yoku is the practise of immersing yourself in nature; ‘bathing’ in the awesome goodness that trees release into the atmosphere; reaping the benefits from magic little things called ‘phytoncides’ and receiving mental calmness from the fractal patterns, vibrant shades of green and calming blues around us – what better place to do this than the Cairngorms National Park!
I am so aware of how lucky I am to live in such a stunning place, I don’t take it for granted and everyday I find joy in the outside world – it makes me feel alive and always grounds me, whether I’m too high or too low – the forest brings me back to a steady level.
When I first experienced Forest Bathing, I had no idea what to expect, but I went with an open mind and in need of some relaxation. What I found, was a guide who made me feel at ease, a quiet forest and a few hours spent following simple directions or ‘invitations’ to help me reconnect with nature. Our session ended with a ‘sit spot’, 20 minutes just sitting, noticing what was around us, spending time with our own thoughts. There was a moment, as I watched the water lapping at the shore, that I suddenly noticed the tiny thin twigs right in front of my eyes, gently waving in the breeze – I’d been sat there for quarter of an hour and hadn’t even seen what was right in front of me. At that moment I felt grounded, I felt in touch with my surroundings again and the smaller things in life – I felt calm. A few months later I still remembered how that simple practise of being in nature had made me feel, I knew I wanted to train with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides to be a Forest Therapy Guide and help others experience this too.
During a Forest Bathing session you can expect to be out for about 1 & ½ – 2 hours and I will guide you through a series of invitations aimed at opening your senses and reconnecting you with yourself and the environment around you. We spend time sharing what we are noticing to the group and finish with a traditional tea ceremony to bring our experience to a close and thank the land we have been supported by during the session. Forest Bathing is suitable for all ages and you can even do it with your dog!
In the 1980’s, Japanese researchers discovered that trees keep themselves healthy by showering themselves in chemicals called phytoncides. When a tree is attacked by a fungus or other organism, the tree diffuses these phytoncides into the air, and they seek out and kill the attacking fungus. Humans have an amazing reaction when we inhale phytoncides. Our bodies produce a special white blood cell, called an NK-cell, these cells roam our body looking for disease and cancer and can destroy it. During the winter trees produce less phytoncides, but simply seeing the colours blue and green and seeing the fractal shapes in nature is also proven to help with our wellbeing and mental health.