Submitted by Among the Trees

Local Bellingham company Among the Trees announces opportunities for people to experience forest bathing in Whatcom County. 

If you haven’t heard of forest bathing or Shinrin Yoku yet, the name can be confusing. Don’t worry, no bathing suits are required. Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and Yoku means “bath.” So Shinrin Yoku means soaking in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses. It was developed in the 1980’s in Japan as both a way to combat workplace stress and to preserve the nation’s forests. 

Photo courtesy Among the Trees

Not simply a walk in the woods, it is a conscious and contemplative practice of being immersed in the sights, sounds, textures and smells of the forest. On the walks we combine the principles of Shinrin Yoku and mindfulness as we slow down, engage each of our senses one at a time and connect with the woods. A typical walk is two hours and is spent primarily in silence.

“For me, this is a way of sharing another way of being outdoors,” says owner April Claxton, “and to offer a space to slow down, use all of your senses and to connect in a deeper way with yourself and with nature.”

We instinctively know we feel better after spending time in nature and studies are proving that it does indeed lead to benefits such as boosting the immune system and anti-cancer proteins, decreasing levels of stress hormones, increasing hours of sleep, decreasing tension, anxiety, anger and fatigue, stimulating a pleasant mood, lowering blood-pressure and heart rate, and making you feel more comfortable and relaxed. 

“Guided forest bathing walks are a wonderful way to  slow down, pause and take time to just be in nature — and I look forward to sharing the experience with you,” Claxton says.

The next forest bathing walk will take place Sunday, March 5th from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Berthusen park in Lynden. A nature mindfulness walk is scheduled for April 2nd. This walk will layer in more contemplative silence and journaling along with forest bathing practices. You can learn more about the walks and register at AmongtheTreespnw.com. More walk offerings will be announced for summer and fall. 

For people interested in extended time in nature, the Nourished by Nature retreat is being held at the North Cascades Environmental Learning center May 5th – 7th. The retreat offers space to slow down and be fully present, with forest bathing & mindfulness activities sprinkled throughout to assist you in engaging all of your senses. There will also be plenty of time for your own rejuvenating pursuits — a good book, art project, journaling, or maybe even a nap.

“We are all so busy these days, I relish the chance to spend a few day slowing down, disconnecting from the day to day and reconnecting to myself,” Claxton says. “Nature is such a help in facilitating that switch from doing to being.”

You can learn more about the retreat and sign up at AmongtheTreespnw.com.

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