Wandering has forever been a term that we connect to the 19th century; the after-tea group walks in the books of Jane Austen, or the romantic pursuit of thought Keats found in taking a stroll around the Heath. But that picturesque way of seeing the actual physical action of wandering — which is in fact, very romantic — has been slightly pummeled by the much more modern idea of hiking, of getting fit in nature.
As a generation, we’re coming back to the green side of life — the matcha side of life — but that is, in our own millennial ways and terms. We haughtily focus on getting cool athleisure sets, heart-rate and calorie-burning monitors and on gathering instagram selfies on top of a hill that state ‘’we can do it’’ with our fists pointing up while we choose a flattering filter for our sweaty faces.
Now, we agree that we can do it, but in lieu, we can, and should preferably be thinking of walking in a much more shinrin-yoku way; in a forest bathing way — no expertise levels of fitness needed for this one.
Yes. Bathing can mean something else than soaking in salty water or lying under the sun; in this case, we will be bathing in, well, trees and flowers (that if it’s spring time, which it is, so, lucky us!).
Yoshifumi Miyazaki, an adorable Japanese environmental researcher and Forest Therapy proponent (he gives his TED talk whilst holding a bouquet of red roses to make a point, cute!). He exposes that as a species, we have lived a 0.0001% in the city of a 99.9999% of having lived in nature, and exactly because of that short period of time in history, we have technologically outgrown our natural functioning by being over stimulated in ways our bodies can’t even yet settle to undertake.
To counterbalance, he proposes shinrin-yoku, promising that practicing it will decrease our cortisol levels (stress hormone) by approx. 7%, and will increase our parasympathetic nervous activity (the ‘rest and digest system’) by 103%, — both highly and continuously affected by our lack of wandering in green.
How to shinrin-yoku?
The cure lies in using our senses. Miyazaki states that we often take health as a goal instead of a means; instead of running to the peak of that mountain for a selfie, take it slow and follow the following steps to practice the art of wandering next time you’re out in nature — reaching a sense of ecstacy and joy should, in most cases, never come quick for it to be sustainable — if you know what we mean. Wink wink.
- Breathe consciously. If you’ve meditated before, this one will be easier for you. Feel how crispy the air is in these places; that foresty and leafy smell is often caused by a substance in the soil called mycobacterium vaccine, which stimulates your immune system and emotions; and the 100 types of phytoncides (natural oils in the trees) that can lower your blood pressure by 4% and 5% when smelling them. Natural aromatherapy anyone?
- Smell. Try to differentiate every smell you encounter. Become Jean-Baptiste Grenouille for a while — but not in a creepy way.
- Watch consciously. Look at sunlight coming in through the trees, take a closer look at the leaves that you’re drawn to. Think like E.T. or, Eleven — for a more modern reference. You’re here for the first time.
- Wander. Feel the space around you and be thankful for how your body allows you to move in it. Whatever you do, do not think of wandering as exercise.
- Touch. Hold things, feel their textures with your fingers. Close your eyes for this one if you want the 0.2 version of touch. For a 0.3 version, take your shoes off and go for some earthing.
- Listen. There is a natural spotify list here in shuttle play; the line-up bringing us the wind, the leaves, and other little animals. Frankly, these all sound like indie folk bands — they’re worth a try.
- Take care. Don’t forget your sunscreen before spending your day in the wilderness. We’ve got this easy-to-pack SPF50 sunscreen face stick with Jojoba, Sunflower and Vitamin E oils that will help you keep your skin moisturised and protected during your stroll.
- Heal. This one is step eight but it is packed within the last seven. Mindfulness is every-step towards self-love, and this is what we’re doing here. We’re calling back our most rawest, most conscious, and feral selves.
Can we bring shinrin-yoku home?
Very much so. And again, we’ve assembled a list of beautiful objects and tips for you to recreate most of that forest bathing experience at home; or at least, to have a care pack for when you’re in need of waking up those outdoorsy senses while being indoors.
- We begin from within with this white charcoal water filter to optimize the levels of purity, magnesium and potassium in water, working through a process similar to spring water travelling through layers of rock and soil from its underground source to the surface of the earth.
- To wake our sense of smell and intention we’ve got this High Resin Palo Santo and this Breu Resin Stick, both used to perform rituals in South America. They’re great to purify the places we inhabit, to call on healing energy, and to dive in forest vibes.
For more smelly wonders follow our mindfulness line.
- These three oil blends from YOKE will bring back a natural — yet sumptuous — wandering feeling that will leave you nourished and energised through all of your senses (they smell incredible!). Just put a few drops in your bath or a few drops in your oil mix to spread all over your body before you take a shower or afterwards when your skin is still wet to avoid any greasy feeling.
- This gemstone combo of six will bring your facials and energy quality to another level. Each crystal holds a specific plot twist of wellness, from regenerating and rebalancing to soothing skin inflammation; read further on our product description for more information on all of our magic-emanating stones.