It’s a practise in Japan called shinrin-yoku. At its core, Nature Bathing is about fully being in nature – absorbing or bathing in the atmosphere through your senses. Opening up to the sight, smells, sound, taste and touch of the forest. That means unplugging completely – no phone calls, podcasts or music. Just you being fully in the present and soaking up the nature around you.
Sounds lovely don’t you think. Certainly there has been a substantial amount of research done in Japan about the health benefits. This forest therapy has been shown to reduce production of the stress hormone cortisol and decrease sympathetic nerve activity. Study participants had lower blood pressure readings as well as reduced anxiety and generally better moods. This excellent article talks about why everyone, not just the very stressed Japanese need nature bathing.
So how does this fit with my passion for memory collecting? One way to really connect, to take a deep plunge in the nature bathing pool, is to draw it. Take time, slow down, look around, get focussed and increase your awareness of whatever is around you. Then grab a pencil.
This eagle feather sketch reminds me of my travels to Haida Gwaii with Maple Leaf Adventures. Because we were in sacred Haida territory, the eagle feather could not be taken home. Drawing the feather into my sketchbook allowed me to reflect on the journey in a more meaningful way. And really drawing a feather is something we all learned in elementary school. I used a graphite pencil that accepts a bit of water to create the smudgy bits.
These words were on a wooden plaque we saw near the Golden Spruce trail. I took a photo wanting to remember the Haida wisdom and this journal page was the perfect place for them to land. You’ll find an engaging book by John Vaillant that documents the story and fate of this tree.
Summer reading, summer sketching – summertime and the living is easy. Hope you take some time to go nature bathing. Let me know where you go? And if you need anyone to help you sort out your memory collecting, whatever that looks like for you, send me a note.
Are you interested in a travel journal workshop? If so please send me a message as I am polling my audience to gauge your interest in this idea. Have a wonderful rest of your summer.