Reconnecting with Nature through Mindful ‘Forest Bathing’

November 4, 2015      Comments Off on Reconnecting with Nature through Mindful ‘Forest Bathing’

If you’ve ever taken a walk in the woods, you know the sense of calm and peace it can provide. The light filtering through the trees…the branches rustling in the wind…the crunch of leaves beneath your feet…and that fresh, earthy smell of growing things. It’s an experience for all your senses, if you allow yourself to be present in it.

Though it might sound funny, the term “forest bathing” perfectly communicates this sense of immersion in the natural world. Translated from the Japanese word Shinrin-yoku, forest bathing is increasingly being used to help stressed, overworked adults unplug from the digital world and be mindfully present in nature. The concept can include everything from playing games in the woods to finding a “sit spot,” a place in nature where you can sit quietly and absorb the surrounding natural setting.

The benefits of forest bathing are significant. Research shows that spending time in nature can lower stress levels, boost immune systems, and increase everything from memory to creativity.

Recently, an article in The Washington Post described one forest bathing program offered by the Wilderness Awareness School in Washington State. Participants often are hyper-plugged-in, whether they receive hundreds of emails a day or spend 18 hours a day online. Many check their cell phones incessantly.

After spending a day in the woods, however, participants said they were inspired to take steps to keep technology from dominating their lives. Some called the experience “humbling,” while others said they felt relaxed for the first time in ages. “I feel like I’m seeing things for the first time,” one participant told The Washington Post.

Mohonk Mountain House also recognizes the benefits of mindful immersion in the natural world. Daily hikes led by a naturalist, guided canoe trips, walks for birdwatchers, and a new program called The Ancient Art of Nature Awareness all allow guests to experience both the benefits of mindfulness and the healing power of nature.

A Mindfulness in Motion private session invites guests to experience mindfulness while walking outdoors in a spectacular setting, enjoying guided meditations designed to open the senses. Taking in the sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch of nature can be a profoundly restorative experience.

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