How to Invite Calm and Healing into Your Mind and Body with Shinrin Yoku
Shinrin yoku 森林浴 - a Japanese word that literally means “forest bathing” - is the practice of connecting with a forest for healing and renewal.
Japanese as a language is so multidimensional and laden with profound hidden meanings that it takes deep emotional listening to understand certain things over time. As my friend put it, the Japanese language can in a word describe something that in English would take an entire paragraph to try to explain. And I completely agree! It's in this way it can take a lifetime to understand certain words in Japanese. I believe shinrin yoku is no exception.
Each time I've gone into a forest here I can feel my connection to it grow, even if it's a different forest in a different place. Forests everywhere connect us to this one thing we all live and rely on for stability, grounding and support, our earth mother. So going to the forest or any place in nature helps us connect to and expand our relationship with her wisdom on a cellular level. And the more we go, our senses become increasingly fine tuned allowing us to deeply.. in the silence.. understand how to receive healing with less and less effort.
A key aspect of shinrin yoku is about holding the intention to receive. It's what makes a walk or hike different from a forest bath. Something I do as I'm about to enter into a forest is take a moment to simply stand or bow at its entrance. I respectfully introduce myself and my energies and then silently ask for permission to enter and safe passage on the journey ahead. I enter humbly and remain open to receive earth medicine in whatever way or form it comes.
And even though shinrin yoku means forest bathing, all we really need to connect and receive this important earth medicine is one solitary tree. To observe and commune with a tree, it's best to treat it like meeting someone new. Start from a distance and stand by or near the tree, and just like you'd let a dog or cat do, let it get a sense of you and your energy before approaching it. Notice it's texture of trunk, leaves, and branches. Notice the insects or wildlife that are living or playing upon it. Notice how you feel when you are with it, and what your five sense are picking up on and receiving.
Shinrin yoku and is a powerful practice that can dramatically change our thoughts and behavior quite simply and naturally. There's a perfection within the inner workings of the natural world, and especially in wild forests, that's completely balanced and self-sustaining. When we consciously connect to receive all the sacred patterns, shapes, scents, movement, and natural rhythms of the wild, we're simultaneously inviting in calm and healing into our mind and body.