Shinrin-yoku, Forest Bathing

Health trend? Meditation? Therapy? Urban stress relief? Inspiration?

All of the above!

The mind-body-spirit connection was a foreign concept to me until late in life. Relaxing the mind and body in unison was an experience I had never had until just a couple of years ago. Therefore, my spirit was trapped in a mind and body full of dis-ease. There were just so many logistics that were required to lead a “successful” home and work life that I got lost in unending amounts of thinking and doing and forgot how to live in the present moment and that it is vital to my well-being. 

Often my relaxation techniques included vacations, the gym, or nature walks/hikes all of which included listening to music, conversing with others or with myself (lol), counting steps and/or calories, contemplating life challenges and possible solutions and sometimes the focus of these activities was solely on the destination. These are all healthy activities, but I wasn’t left feeling relaxed.

I was eventually forced by my body to create space in my life for healing, for true relaxation. The old saying, “Stop and smell the roses” simply says it all. I learned I needed to slow down, to quiet my mind and body. Out of desperation, I made changes to my lifestyle. I began to experiment with meditation, yoga, and earthing. Over a short period of time, my experimentation proved that putting the body, mind, heart, and spirit connection first in my life did eliminate the dis-ease I had been previously experiencing. My spirit now has a healthy mind and body to live in and as long as I continue to put my spirit first, I can enjoy each moment as it comes, meet every life experience with a positive perspective, and often I have feelings of joy and serenity for no other reason than just being alive. I have never felt so connected or a sense of belonging in this world as I have now.

Forest bathing or Shinrin-yoku (Japan’s term) is a guided introduction to mother nature and ecotherapy. The concept is not new and has been practiced by many cultures since the dawn of time. A Forest Bathing guide is not the therapist. The Forest is the therapy. Your guide makes suggestions and invites you to try various activities to assist your connective experience, to support the process of slowing down and being in the present moment, thus creating space for deep relaxation and rejuvenation.

In an article published by the David Suzuki Foundation regarding Forest Bathing, Cognitive psychologist David Strayer’s hypothesis is that “being in nature allows the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s command centre, to dial down and rest, like an overused muscle.”

This fall, I will be participating in my first guided Forest Bathing Retreat at Sorrento Centre. I am so grateful to be surrounded by the beautiful, generous people at the centre who are inspired to provide and support these transformational opportunities. There is always an open invitation from Sorrento Centre for all to come to engage heart, mind, and spirit.


(as submitted by Stacie Anderson)

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