Forest Bathing Shinrin Yoku in Victoria BC at Francis King Regional Park – Vlog 111

by Melissa West on April 16, 2018

Post image for Forest Bathing Shinrin Yoku in Victoria BC at Francis King Regional Park  – Vlog 111

Forest Bathing

This past Friday I had the honour of embarking on a Mystical Rain Forest Tour with John Fraser at Francis King Regional Park here on Vancouver Island.

With reverence and an attitude of devotion we entered into the forest bathing mindful, meditative walk. Forest bathing is something that originated in Japan, however John has brought in his experience as a clinical counsellor and knowledge of shamanism as well.

Forest bathing means, taking in the forest atmosphere. The technique was developed in Japan in the 1980s and is an important part of their preventative healthcare. Since the 1980s there has been a lot of research to support the health benefits of taking a slow interactive walk through the forest.

With forest bathing we slow down and allow all of our senses to become immersed in the natural and alive ecosystem. There are times when we open our sense of smell, turn to our sense of touch, listen more attentively with our ears, take in the visual colours, lines and textures of the forest, we even tasted some of the young growth of the forest.

As our guide, John encouraged us to slow down and let go of our rushing and busy-ness. The research collected on forest bathing shows that it boosts your immune system, reduces stress and anxiety, and helps to alleviate depression.

The trees emit natural essential oils that are incredible healing and soothing for us as we breathe them in. These essential oils produced by the trees, plants, flowers and berries of the forest. The trees emit the essential oils, called phytoncides to help protect themselves from germs and insects. However for humans, these essential oils smell fresh and actually help to improve our immune function.

What stood out most to me is that when we enter into the forest we enter into a relationship. It is not one sided. We do not go into the space only to take, but recognize that there is a kinship to be respected. We approach every living and dying being in the forest with respect as we would a friend, asking permission.

With forest bathing there is no particular destination in mind. You allow yourself to open your senses, let go of your agendas and immerse yourself in the moments that nature provides.

If you watched all the way to the end of this video put, “I hear the call of the raven” in the comments

Here are two poems I wrote from the resonance of my last experience of forest bathing:

hello forest
by Melissa West

hello forest,
is now a good time?
are you up for a respectful visitor?

hello forest
may I come in?
if I promise to slow down my breathing?

I know you are hurting
and so am I…
may I share my burdens,
and promise to hear yours,
the way trusted friends
listen to each other?

it has taken too long
but I’m beginning to understand,
that we are both extremely
sensitive and empathetic.

so when I come to your
I won´t barge right in
but pause —
and reflect on how I enter.

dreamcatchers in the sun
by Melissa West

when I miss my grandma
I enter the forest
and feel the strength of the living elders

even in death
the woodland comforts
offering vitality and new possibility

nursing logs breathe new life
into young saplings
while the shadow of a fern
dances over a decaying leaf

the softness of grandmother red cedar
cushions the impossibility of life´s
while cedar branches swoop up
in the most optimistic smiles

making dreamcatchers in the sun

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