How about trying a little eco-therapy to keep your sanity during the coming months when SAD (seasonal affective disorder) can be at its most winter-ferocious? Preventative measures must be taken to not sink down into the dumps of darkness. The act of forest-bathing is a very simple yet enlightening concept. Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term that translates to "taking in the forest atmosphere". Instructions on achieving this do not require disappearing to a zen monastery to master the art form, perhaps just a nice stroll through your local neck of the woods for a day, a week, an afternoon, or a few hours.... As long as you are present amidst a living forest you can reap the health benefits of shinrin-yoku without cutting too greatly into your daily routine.
Reminder: keep it simple.
"Go to a forest. Walk slowly. Breathe. Open all your senses." (shinirinyoku.org)
Research has shown scientifically the rejuvenation and serene sense of calm a body can absorb from a living forest. Trees release organic compounds that our natural killer cells (think immune system) just eat right up. In a somatic sense other health benefits include: lowered blood pressure, uplifted moods and better focus, better sleep and mental clarity, and more ease in coping with stress with lower cortisol levels and down regulation of the nervous system.
Sensory immersion in a forest is naturally healing, it allows for a grounding within yourself and your reality. What better prescription for good health is there than a walk in the woods? Practice presence and absorb your surroundings in order to experience that moment of still-point where you become attuned with your own true conscious awareness; the ultimate mind-body-earth connection.
- Kyndl Mueller, L.Ac.