We invite you to take a break. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and connect with your body and mind. Now, imagine you are in a millenary forest. This is our proposal on what to do when you visit Chile, forest bathing.
What is forest bathing?
Forest bathing is a Japanese practice whose purpose is to heal through the connection with nature and, especially, the forests.
In Chile, this experience is also called “nature bathing” and it is often complemented with Grounding, connecting with the Earth barefoot. This harmonic relationship is also typical of the indigenous people in Chile, manifested in their worldview on the Pachamama (Mother Earth) and Ñuke Mapu.
Forest bathing is based on scientific studies that have found that forests and, in particular, some trees, help to improve our physical and mental state. They release phytoncides, substances that protect trees from bacteria, insects and fungi; which penetrate people’s bodies through the lungs and skin.
In humans, phytoncides help to kill and inhibit the development of pathogen microbes and increase the number of cells protecting against infectious diseases. Besides, they normalize the heart rate and blood pressure; reduce the levels of stress hormones and anxiety signs, anger, fatigue and confusion.
Queulat National Park
Places where you can try forest bathing in Chile
Chile has 105 protected wild zones (41 National Parks, 46 National Reserves and 18 Natural Monuments). We want you to enjoy forest bathing in these places, while taking care of our ecosystem.
Before starting the experience, ask the park ranger in which zones you can do it. Even though we love our trees, hugs can damage some millenary species (causing bark breakage, for example), which is why we invite you to fill yourself with their energy while taking care of their well-being.
Forest bathing step by step
Before starting this activity, remember that its purpose is to connect you with nature. For this, we recommend you follow these instructions.
- Have a landmark. You may get lost during the experience, so be careful to always have reference points on how to get to the starting point.
- Although the idea is to disconnect, carry your cellphone in case of emergency. To not be disturbed during the bathing, you can put it on mute or turn it off.
- During the activity, try to put away your camera, watch, and any other object you use on a daily basis. This will help you to connect with nature.
- Lastly, use comfortable, loose-fitting clothes, and don’t worry about time, just flow.
Now that we have everything prepared, let’s start forest bathing!
Step 1: Breathing
Before starting the practice of Shinrin Yoku, you must breathe consciously. This will allow you to oxygenate and effectively inhale the phytoncides and calm your mind.
Step 2: Activation
In connection with your breath, move slowly until you find a place that attracts you. Here, activate your senses to perceive your surroundings. Enjoy the wind, smells and your body’s sensations. The energy not only comes from the trees! Pay attention to insects, moss and everything that reach your senses.
Step 3: Contemplation and connection
With your senses activated, continue your walk at a slow pace. We recommend you carry an item from nature: branches, leaves or flowers found in the ground (do not cut them!) or even a rock.
Find a place where you feel tranquility to sit or stop to intensify your connection with nature. Focus on your intention and remember to live the here and now.
Remember that during the experience there’s often an emotional, spiritual, mental and physical connection with nature, so do not worry or be scared if your emotions take control. Let yourself go by your feelings until you reach a state of calmness.
You can also let your creativity flow. Here you can sing, dance and perform artistic expressions. If you carry pencils or items to create a work, always remember to not leave behind any trash and take all your things.
Step 4: Finalization
A suggestion to finish forest or nature bathing is to have a tea or other infusion. For this, you need your flask with hot water, a small cup and the infusion.