Sunday, July 8, 2018

Forest Bathing

We're back, now, to complementary medicine exploration.

 This is something which I touched on in my book, but have since found it to be even more beneficial in raising my spirits, providing relaxation, and opening my very being to healing energies.

The method?   Shinrin-yoku.

Also called forest bathing.

Shinrin in Japanese means "forest" and yoku means "bath."  So Shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere.  It is simply being in nature, and - most especially - letting our senses take in the energy of the plants and trees with which we have an undeniable symbiotic relationship.   It is not about hiking or climbing - or expending tons of energy.  It is about finding a spot where you are able to absorb the energy emitted by the plant world.

Think about it:  We humans need oxygen to fuel our bodies and, in turn, expel carbon dioxide.  The plant world uses carbon dioxide and returns oxygen for our use.  It is abundantly clear that we need each other.  It is predicted that by the year 2050, 66 percent of the world's population will live in cities.  According to a study by the EPA, the average American spends 93 percent of his or her time indoors.  Study after study in Japan has shown that forest bathing provides the same benefits of meditation; lowering heart rate, blood pressure, inflammation, anxiety and sense of depression.

So have you ever tried it?

I have.  And I highly recommend it.

We are fortunate enough to have a wooded area behind our house.  At times, sitting in the backyard or out on our deck is all I can do.  But we are also fortunate enough to have both a county and national park within three miles of my home.  I have taken a folding chair with me and parked my car like those going on a hike, yet tucked my chair back on the edge of the foliage and sat - much like I would if I would still be a beachgoer - simply absorbing the feel and photoncides (the aromatic compounds from plants) of the forest, instead of the rays of the sun.

 Of course, I reserve this "bathing" for perfectly stellar days, and still stay indoors when it's too hot, or muggy, or rainy, or cold, or humid.  It is just one more arrow in my quiver which I use to fight this autoimmunity I face.

Arrows in our quiver.   Face it, right now, that is all we have.