Yesterday, a friend handed me an article she’d clipped from The Washington Post entitled “Walking in Forest Changes You” written by Meeri Kim that referenced a Japanese practice called Shinrin-yoku. “Coined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 1982, the word literally translates to ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’ or ‘forest bathing’ and refers to the process of soaking up the sights, smells and sounds of a natural setting to promote physiological and psychological health.”
Kim states: “Over thousands of years of human history, we have effectively become an indoor species. Particularly for those of us trapped in the cubicle life, often the only times we regularly step foot outside is for our daily work commute or to run errands . . . a number of scientific studies emphasize that reveling in the great outdoors promotes human health. Spending time in natural environments has been linked to lower stress levels, improved working memory and feeling more alive, among other positive attributes.”
I know that I can’t literally share the sounds and smells of our gardens, yard and woodland with you, but I invite you to imagine the softness of pine needles, crunch of dried leaves and sponginess of moss beneath your feet, the smell of pine interwoven with must and mud, and the sensation of a strong breeze, hot sun and cool shade. May you hear branches creaking in the wind, leaves fluttering, occasional mosquitos buzzing and songs of the oven bird, red-eyed vireo, chipping sparrow and white-throated sparrow who calls, “Old Sam Peabody” over and over again.
Join me in a garden/yard/forest bath:
Happy wandering. Happy wondering. Happy bathing.