Crisp morning air, dew drops hanging off the leaves,
The gentle rustle of leaves underfoot, and the low hum of the bees
The trees tower in the glistening sun rays
While the birds sing an avian symphony
The heart to heart with Mother Nature
Brings immense peace and harmony.
Why do we feel so happy and content when we go to parks, gardens, forests or any place that has a lot of open areas, trees and greenery? It’s because at a very primitive level, we are all part of nature, we came from nature, and that sensation of ‘reconnecting’ releases a flood of happy-hormones. One of the most effective ways of being one with nature is through Shinrin Yoku or Forest Bathing.
As our resident expert and renowned ornithologist Dr Ajay Sharma puts it, “The purest of moments come when you leave your phones and cameras behind, and you give your complete attention to the beautiful elements of nature around you.” When you look at all the greenery and the natural open space, your body naturally falls in sync with the forest’s vibrations. Your frenzied brain activity slows down, your body relaxes and your senses open up to take in the sensory stimulations from all five senses.
At Ekaanta, Shinrin Yoku offers the perfect start to the day, where our guests spend an hour and a half walking amongst wooded trails and gurgling streams. Before heading off for a leisurely morning walk in the forest, Dr. Sharma gives a little introduction to our guests about the local trees and birds found near Ekaanta.
Here are some of the things that you can enjoy during Shinrin Yoku or Forest Bathing at Ekaanta:
· Mindful Pauses: Take a few minutes and sit comfortably on a tree stump or a grassy slope. Pick up a leaf from the ground. Observe its texture, how it feels against your skin. Lightly scratch the surface and smell it. Does it have an aroma? Does it have soft edges or serrated? Or if you find a caterpillar, observe how detailed are the colours and hairs on its body, how it moves and how it eats. When you pause like this for a few moments, it helps you unwind, and connect better with nature.
· Sky Gazing: Lie down on your back and look up at the sky and the clouds as they gently roll along. If you’re under forest cover, observe the canopy above, and see how ‘crown shyness’ amongst trees allows the sunlight to pierce the treetops and reach the ground below. Sky gazing helps you view things from a different perspective. Studies show that imbibing the sights and smells of a forested area improves healing, immunity and lowers heart rate and blood pressure.
· Micro Yoga: One of the activities we do during Shinrin Yoku is micro yoga. We help our guests practise some simple asanas so when they go back to their daily hustle, it becomes easy to create a habit around these asanas. Simple ones like Zhan Zhuang Qigong or the tree hugging pose, Vriksha asana or the tree pose and Utthita Trikona asana or the extended triangle pose etc.
· Sound Meditation : Listen to the sounds of nature – the chirping of the birds, the rustling of the leaves, the sudden crack of a twig breaking, or the sound of dry leaves crunching underfoot. Close your eyes for a few minutes and listen to the sounds around you. By focusing your attention on the many layers of sounds, you will discover how pleasing- and easy- it is to drown out all the other sounds. With sustained practice, you will also be able to drown out the peripheral thoughts, helping you achieve a state of dhyana or stillness, even in the middle of chaos.
Shinrin Yoku works differently for different people. There is no ‘right way’ of finding a connection with the forest or the trees or the leaf you pick to observe. Walk around, see what catches your attention. Follow your nose, listen closely to the sounds of nature , and if anything piques your curiosity, explore that further. Eventually you will find your own ‘sweet spot’, maybe its the ‘quietness’, or maybe it’s identifying different bird sounds, or even watching a ladybug crawl on your palm. Whatever it is, It will give you a sense of realisation of how you stand in the grand scheme of things, and how nature can bring a sense of balance and peace to your life.
The whole concept of forest bathing is to not really centred around the forest, itself but around how we connect with nature. Look at how one tree communicates with the other trees through an elaborate root system, how birds of one species lay their eggs in another’s, how all elements of nature are interconnected and interdependent, creating a harmonious ecosystem where every element flourishes. Forest bathing helps people understand how they can plug into this beautiful energy source to rejuvenate their minds and spirits.
For a uniquely transformative experience of Shinrin Yoku, reach us at [email protected]