Forest bathing is becoming popular nowadays. It’s true that 54% of the population today live in an urban area, and this percentage is reaching 74% in the more developed nations. The growth of this urban population is 1.8% each year.
Of course, this last percentage is decreasing as we are moving forward the 100%, but just thinking of it, with a one percent growth each year, it could take only 25 years to some countries to be entirely urban. It’s hard to realize that in vast Northern America, but for the ones who live or know Europe, it could be conceivable.
Why forest bathing?
Considering the unavoidable growth of cities, studying how we can still benefit from nature is becoming a crucial point.
A couple of months ago, I ran a pool on different platforms. I wanted to know what kind of nature attract people the most. If I tend to find waters of any kind very soothing, I must admit that I’m never disappointed by a walk in a forest. A majority of people who answered thought the same, by far!
That’s when I decided to study this interest: why trees and forests attract so many people who live in cities? Why not meadows, grassland or paradisiac beaches? What about the mountains that so many enjoy climbing?
The encounter with a book
My research led me to forest bathing quite rapidly. But first I want to tell about a book I happen to find and read precisely at the same time. My mom received it for Christmas and said to me about it. I was just starting my research at the time, so I found this quite perfect actually.
The Hidden Life Of Trees by Peter Wohlleben is a very complete and surprising revelation about the social web existing between trees. His study and report about what he learnt are extensive, so I’m already planning to read the book a second time soon to assimilate even more information.
Anyway what I learnt for now and what’s already fascinating me, is the fact that there is so much living energy emanating from forests, the natural ones. This energy is a way of communicating with these trees that are building a community of siblings. This energy is a phenomenon we are feeling and experiencing when we are walking in natural forests.
Our walk in Lynn Creek forest in British Columbia
What could be the chances that I was told about this book at the exact time I start researching about forest attraction. What could be the chances that we planned this trips to Vancouver months ago and this particular walk to Lynn Creek beautiful forest?
There is an Ecology centre right at the entrance of the canyon. It’s more a teaching centre for school-age children, but it’s very informative nevertheless. And you’ll never guess what one of the points highlighted, except for the fauna and flora living in the premises was! The difference between natural forest and a forest planted by men! Which was a perfect illustration right after I finished reading The Hidden Life Of Trees!
Quite expectedly, in developed countries, the percentage of natural forests is becoming rather small. This type of Ecology Centre is there to teach young children how trees and forests, especially the inspiring natural ones, are so important to us. That’s where we are coming to my book and its tree families.
The power of essential oils
Surely, walking in a natural forest is an undeniable benefit for any human being. But does it mean that the ones who are not lucky enough to live close to such privileged areas are forbidden to enjoy the power of the trees? NO! Definitely not!
Hence the forest bathing experience. Enjoying the presence of trees anywhere. Appart from the energy that is emanating from the web created by sibling trees in a natural forest, trees are releasing essential oils. Essential oils are becoming quite common nowadays for the one who cares about natural healing. They are created by extracting the oils contained by flowers, leaves, any plant indeed. These essential oils are potent, some are deadly dangerous even.
The fact is they are a powerful, and nowadays useful ally to cure many of our daily illnesses. I could write for hours here, as I healed my children almost entirely with them from their birth. As a result, they merely go to the doctor once a year for a check-up. They are suffering from, let’s say, one minor cold a year. They missed school for sickness fewer days than I have fingers on my both hand in their life, they are 15 and almost 18.
You are listening to a convinced person regarding essential oil. The fact that trees are releasing essential oils into the air is something I didn’t know. It made the Whole forest bathing experience highly valuable from the start.
Forest bathing as we experienced it in Toronto
When I searched for forest bathing, I rapidly found that you can now become a trained and certified Forest bathing Guide. That’s something that I keep in mind, but for now I just really wanted to experience forest bathing.
I found the True Nature Toronto group who was offering some convenient walks in our hometown.
I must admit that I was more than pleased to discover that the first two walks were not regular walks in my forest point of view. My grandfather was a ranger, and forest walks were involving being in surrounded by trees in wild areas. Sometimes with a footpath, sometimes not.
I was intrigued, curious and interested in the fact we could forest bath in the heart of a city like Toronto. We did actually.
The first try was on a day of freezing rain. The rain came very late during the walk, but it was freezing that day. The result was that our group was more than sparse. Except for the four of us, two more brave walkers and our guide were present. Nevertheless, the experience was fantastic.
We practiced quiet and peaceful time under the trees of High Park, which is the vast park within Toronto’s walls, and one of the large trees area in the city. It’s very civilized, however. But I learnt that day two things:
- You can benefit from whatever you have if you are willing to enjoy what is surrendering to you
- You can always learn to deal with something if you are convinced you don’t have a choice
What I gained from my first experience
Being in a city park was not an obstacle for practising the different invitation our guide sent us. Most of them were an invitation of experiencing quietly and peacefully different feeling nature could offer, from sounds, to smell and touch. Each “invitation” was a 20min long walk in the area on our own.
The second thing that I experienced was the cold. I mean, staying almost entirely still for 10 to 20 min at a time, or strolling, was not an easy one for me. I’m used to experiencing long photo walks on cold days even when it’s -30C outside. But I’m walking most of the time, and the colder, the faster I walk. So having to deal with the cold that day was a tremendous difficulty for me. I wanted to do this. Somehow, I manage to set my mind on the idea that the cold weather was here, but I wanted to be here too, so let it be!
In the end, I believe it’s a kind of meditation that we practised on this first Forest bathing. I know that the definition of forest bathing is technically receiving the essential oils emanating from the trees. But in my opinion, it’s even more powerful to enjoy this time trying to practice a little meditation and quiet private encounter with nature.
Our second forest bathing experience
This second meeting with our forest bathing guide, April to name her (read her article for the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy website Whispers from the Forest), was even more intriguing. We practised forest bathing in a conservatory. If the first walk was a cold one, the second one was quite warm regarding the contrast of temperatures inside and outside the greenhouse!
We went for our invitations once more, in this wholly humanized forest. If the first walk was the occasion of enjoying peace and calm surrounded with nature, this second walk was a completely different experience. We focused on interest, and attraction mainly. It was a good time for me to realize and understand that I wasn’t indeed attracted by what I first thought.
These things are indeed far more complicated. It took me a lot of time and a lot of work on my senses to understand what mattered to me. The lesson here was that it takes time to figure out how we work if we eventually have the whole picture one day. It’s necessary to slow down to understand. Rushing for the obviously could mislead us on the wrong path.
What about forest bathing in the end
I had no expectations at first, so the experience was all beneficial to me. And will be as I’ll pursue it in the future. Experiencing the benefits of natural substances is a treat for our urbanized bodies, but not only. The way we “bath” is significant too. Each one in the group had their feelings, discoveries; everyone learnt something about themselves. Enjoying the benefits of nature is good, but it’s not only a time to receive from nature. It’s essential that we give too. I don’t mean planting seeds along the way, though it’s could a good thing. What I suggest here is practising self-awareness in order to grow from the whole experience.
To sum it all, if you are looking for a new nature-related experience, forest bathing is definitely a good choice! It’s a good way to find some quiet inner time, practice self-reflection and enjoy the benefits of plants and trees.
If you want to read more about ways to enjoy quiet time in nature:
If you want to enjoy more time for yourself and can’t find it: