Why Forest Bathing Is Like Free Therapy
Updated: Feb 5
Spending time in nature has been such an important part of my recent healing journey, as I've shared many times before. It allows me to take a step back from the "doingness" of life, and step into simply being present with the moment.
Nature carries deep wisdom within itself. It reminds us of the intricate beauty of life that is always available if we pause to observe. It graciously demonstrates how in order to blossom into the generous, abundant and beautiful beings that we are, we must shed the old and be willing to "die", letting go of who we think we are in order to give space for new growth.
I am very attuned with the seasons and as fall makes its way, I feel the need to slow down on creative projects and focus my energy on inner reflection. For me, a great way to do that is through forest bathing!
If you're unfamiliar with what forest bathing is, this term gained popularity as a Japanese practice called Shinrin Yoku, which translates to Forest Bathing. But I think it's safe to assume that this practice has been shared among many cultures for a really long time!
Many studies have been conducted, showing a positive correlation between forest bathing and significantly lower stress levels, mood improvement, as well as immune system and creativity boosts! Plants and trees release a substance called phytoncides, which is "associated with improvements in the activity of our front line immune defenders."
* If you want to learn more about the science behind it, I found this website to be resourceful: https://www.natureandforesttherapy.org/about/science
Forest bathing differs from typical hiking because rather than having the goal be your destination, your goal is all about being in the present moment, basking in your sensory experiences.
You can begin by noticing what you see, all the colours around you. Notice and delight in the natural scents around you. Notice how it feels to be outside. Maybe touch a tree and notice what that feels like. It's all about savoring the moment!
If you ever see me hugging a tree, now you'll know what's going on! :)
One of the many positive realizations that I had with this pandemic experience is that Manitoba is such a beautiful province. This year alone I've explored more than ever before, and I'd love to share some of my favorite spots so that you can try forest bathing before winter comes!
1. Hunt Lake Trail
This is without a doubt the most beautiful trail I've done so far in Manitoba. It is located in the Whiteshell, near West Hawk Lake. It has an ever changing scenery, equally beautiful all throughout the trail. It provides endless opportunities to practice forest bathing!
2. Bead Lakes Trail
Riding Mountain has no shortage of breathtaking trails, but this one is particularly nice! It is a a beautiful and serene lakeside trail, and looks incredibly beautiful in the Fall!
3. Black's Point Interpretative Loop
This is such a lovely trail in Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park! I visit this one quite often as my family has a cabin there, and it’s usually just me, the trees and the occasional animal roaming around. Perfect for surrendering to the experience without any distractions. I heard fairies live there... If you’re lucky you'll spot one!
4. Bunns Creek Trail
This is one of my favorite trails in the city, located by Henderson Hwy. Even though you'll see a lot of movement in the trail, it's still really beautiful and a great opportunity to connect with nature while close to home! Can you spot the sleepy kitty in the first picture?
This is another great option if you want to be in nature but don't have the time to get outside of the city! It is a lovely experience to walk through this part of the Seine River Greenway. I don't have any pictures from this trail because last time I was there I left my phone in the car. But trust me, it's really nice!
I hope you can get some inspiration from this post to connect with nature and explore our BEAUTIFUL province!