One with the Woods

The benefits of immersing oneself in nature.

Kirk Meyers, Sports Editor

Shinrin-yoku , or forest bathing, is a practice originating from Japan. Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” Put together, shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere or taking in the forest through our senses.
In recent years, various studies have endeavored to analyze the physical and psychological effects of shinrin-yoku. Here are a few of the proven physical and psychological benefits:
Physical effects:
Lowers heart rate and blood pressure.
Boosts the immune system.
Reduces sleeplessness.
Psychological effects:
Reduces stress and depression.
Increases liveliness.
Increases concentration.
So how does one get started with Forest Bathing?
Step One – Leave behind your phone, camera and/or any other distractions, so that one can be fully present in the moment.
Step Two – Leave behind your goals and expectations. Wander aimlessly, allowing your body to take you wherever it wants.
Step Three – Pause from time to time to look more closely at a leaf or notice the sensation of the path beneath your feet. Be observant of all the little details.
Step Four – Find a comfy spot to take a seat and listen to the sounds around you. See how the behavior of the birds and other animals change when they adjust to your presence.
Step Five – If embarking with others, agree amongst yourselves to resist talking until the end, when you can explore and discuss your experiences in depth.
Step Six (optional) – Focus on a single thought; whether it be broad or oddly specific. This is a bit of my own input— a feature I wish to explore and hope you might join along with me (that is, if you chose to follow steps one-five).
Unearthing the Roots
Initially, this was meant to be a recurring column that would further delve into the prior week’s topic; that being our instinctive reliance on technology, more specifically our phones.
Returning to the practice of immersing myself in nature always seems well, for lack of a better term, ‘natural’.
After many moments of self-reflection and time taken away from my phone, I better understand how intrinsic technology and media have become in day-to-day interactions.
It seems that due to the hyperactive nature of the internet, societal contexts are constantly changing and adapting to fit. This causes a lack of understanding in internet culture and leaves one unable to properly connect with others. But, the same can be said about those deeply rooted in cyberculture.
Therefore, like all things in life, a sense of balance is required, or at the least that seems to be the right approach.