#Forest #bathing #seasonal #wellness #immersion
Very fashionable in recent years, forest baths are good for the body and soul. How is it useful and how to do it concretely? Decoded…
Born in Japan in the 1980s, shinrin-yoku is a practice that consists of fully immersing oneself in nature to reconnect with it through the five senses. That is to say, we look carefully around us, we listen to the song of the birds or the murmur of the wind, we smell the multiple scents of the forests, we touch the trees, the leaves or the mosses, we taste the fragrant air or, with luck, blueberries, strawberries, spring water… In short, we connect 100% with our environment to immerse ourselves in it, summarizes Dr. Qing Li, immunologist, biologist and associate professor of the Tokyo School of Medicine. who was instrumental in the popularity of forest bathing.
Proven positive effects
We know intuitively: that nature is good for us. But why and how? In an attempt to scientifically understand the physiological and psychological effects of forest bathing and silvotherapy (which focuses more specifically on trees), many studies have been conducted around the world.
Thus, already in 1995, the team led by Professor Yoshifumi Miyazaki, from the University of Chiba, in Japan, compared different health indicators between shirinyokists and no-shirinyokists. The results obtained are clear: the subjects who spent 40 minutes in the forest in the morning and in the afternoon had good blood pressure, slept better, had better powers of concentration, and were generally less tired and affected by bouts of depression or anxiety than those who never walked through the forest.
Furthermore, Dr. Qing Li was able to demonstrate “a significant drop in cortisol (known as the stress hormone), an “improved performance of the immune system”, an “increase in NK cells (or natural killer cells)” and a significant reduction in the level of glucose in the blood of diabetics who follow forest baths.
Miraculous results? Dr. Qing Li relativizes and insists:
How do we start?
A priori, we start by forgetting our phones, tablet, and other sources of distraction to go to a wooded place. If a beautiful forest is obviously preferable, a tall forest, an urban park, a lakeshore, or a garden are also perfectly suitable.
So once in his ocean of green, walk slowly, aimlessly, without worrying about the passage of time and without necessarily speaking if you are part of a group. Take a deep breath, empty your head, allowing yourself to be filled by your senses: smell, hearing, sight… Do you need to be moving to savor these different sensations? Proceed slowly. Do you prefer stillness? stop where you feel, hug the tree that attracted you, sit on the ground (or on a stump, a stone), and experience the sweetness of the present. Simply, naturally.
Are you afraid of not being able to disconnect and do not master the art of meditation or yoga? Do not be scared! The beneficial process occurs by itself. As soon as you walk in silence, you daydream at the foot of a tree, touch, caress or observe the life that moves around you (plants, insects, birds…), and try to recognize and analyze the smells and noises around you… the brain goes into a mode called gentle fascination. Listen: your mind is no longer focused on anything in particular, which calms and promotes creativity!
Shinrin-yoku is practiced throughout the year. – even if the spring period is particularly rich in surprises –, in any weather, at the times that suit you best and as often as you want (or can), with no time limit.
accessible to all, It has the advantage of not requiring any particular physical condition.
Opera singer and forestry technician, Vincent Karche created what he calls the silvoixtherapy – a technique that combines the benefits of forest bathing with vocal expression benefits. To find out more about this double practice, you can consult its guide, Une forest therapy aloud, recently published by Éditions Favre.
If you want to offer yourself different sensations and follow initiations (in a group or individually), guided walks or silvotherapy courses are organized in French-speaking Switzerland.