by Madeleine Marentette
The term ‘forest bathing’ is a translation from ‘Shinrin-yoku’, coined in 1982 by the Forest Agency of Japan. This program was developed to address the growing number of Japanese workers who were suffering intense stress and serious health issues from the demanding work-life rooted in their culture. The agency along with the Japanese government created a wellness initiative that promoted trips to the countries well-established bamboo forests to promote relaxation, meditation and rejuvenation. These experiences would help to shift a work-culture causing an alarming number of young people to collapse and even die from early heart attacks. The campaign caught on and now three decades later it is catching on around the world.
Forest bathing is a concept that is not just about taking a relaxing walk into the woods, but revolves around the power to heal through breath work, meditation, bathing ourselves in negative ions, electric-magnetic frequencies of the earth, the simple natural environment that benefits our health and wellbeing when immersed in all of the above.
However, the North American population is trending towards the urban lifestyle in the recent decade. We are trading in nature for high-rises and underground shopping malls and it’s creating new stress levels and illnesses, many caused by the continuous bombardment of radio waves on our brain and our natural biorhythm. There is lots of scientific research that has emerged in the last two decades to support that radio waves not only affects our brain activity, but also affects our nervous system, biorhythm, and our overall wellbeing.
What is Biorhythm? It is the acknowledgment of natural cycles within nature. This includes man and our physical, emotional and mental cycles over a period of a day, a week, a month, a season or a year. As we are Nature, which we often forget, we are subject to the laws of nature; to the natural ebb and flow of life, which means constant changes within our body. These changes occur subtly and naturally with or without our influence. And with the introduction of wi-fi into the modern-day life, we have a new influence to deal with, especially for those who are computer-screen and technology-addicted. Most people are not consciously aware of these unseen radio waves or what affect they have on the brain or nervous system. However, more and more people are starting to question their feelings of unrest, sleeplessness, irritation, anxiety and depression.
When we step away from our urban environment and literally take a breather, turn off our cell phone, go to the country, a trip to the cottage or park, we move away from the effect of radio waves on our brain and nervous system and immediately feel a greater sense of calm, peace and wellbeing. We’ve all experienced this. Neuroscientists are discovering the keys to optimal brain health and happiness and it’s quite simple; we need more nature in our life. Ironically, we have mastered the art of how to control and decimate nature for the advancement of technology, wealth, power, and consumer gluttony. It’s time for a paradigm shift by understanding our inter-connected oneness with nature and campaigning for it. We can benefit immensely from enhancing our commitment to protect nature, and integrate the healing sustenance of forests, water, minerals and animals into our daily life. Everyone wins.
So how can you begin? Bathe yourself; your mind and every cell of your body into the essence of the forest. This is not a power-hike, but a mindful and quiet walk into any surrounding that has a lot of trees. Breathe deeply being mindful not to entertain stressful thoughts. Open your eyes and allow the surroundings of the forest to embrace you and bring you to the present. Stop along the path when something catches your attention. Ponder on it. Breathe in deep the aromatherapy of the forest. Let your lungs take in the healing effect of negative ions. Reacquaint with nature and be inspired by all of her beauty from micro to macro. Connect with Mother Nature’s own biorhythm, observing the cycle of life within the plant kingdom, the birds and animals. Contemplate where you are at within your own cycle of life. Perhaps you are getting ready to birth something new within yourself; a commitment to continuous self-care, or a renewed appreciation for Mother Nature and your inter-connectedness with her.
If you wish to go deeper, take off your shoes, walk barefoot (another trend called ‘Barefoot Healing’), and remember what it was like to be a child again, carefree and unencumbered by rules or the burdens of adult responsibilities. Plan a picnic, grab a blanket and find the perfect hidden grove to lie down in. Maybe even take in a nap if you can allow yourself to do so. You may recall that whenever you’ve done this in the past, perhaps on a beach while on vacation, when you rose up you might have felt an unusual sense of wellbeing, like being a little tipsy. Here’s why… the Earth surrounds and protects all living things with a natural frequency pulsation of 7.83 Hertz which the ancient Indian Rishis called OM. This frequency is what gets disturbed by the constant bombardment of radio waves we talked about earlier. When you lie down on the grass, sand or forest floor, you get a big dose of grounding energy-medicine; a healthy shot that balances your nervous system, creating calm and that rarely found feeling of bliss, well worth the trip into the woods.
So perhaps next time you pass by a forest you will look at her differently, plan a weekly or at least monthly trip to and enter the gates of ‘The Big Church’ – an ancient religion entwined within many cultures past, who knew of her magical powers and her promise to calm our mind and biorhythm, recharge our electro-magnetic body, and renew our weary Spirit, and expect nothing in return. More from Grail Springs Retreat for Well-Being.
Madeleine Marentette is the founder of Grail Springs Retreat Center for WellBeing