The mind-body trend sweeping the nation is the Japanese practice of “Shinrin-yoku”.
It has been so effective as a health practice in Japan that it is covered by medical insurance. It is known to lower blood pressure and heart rates as well as lower concentrations of the stress hormone, cortisol; and boost overall immunity.
A Bath Like No Other
The practice of Shinrin-yoku is an opportunity for people to literally soak up and bathe in the sights, sounds, smells of nature to improve the mind, body and spirit. Shinrin-yoku translates as ‘forest bathing’. The practice invites people to:
- Slow down;
- Appreciate things that can only be seen, felt or heard when one is moving slowly;
- Alleviate/take a break from the stresses of life; and, most importantly,
- Take Notice of What You Are Noticing.
Here’s how to try forest bathing on your own:
The trick to Shinrin-yoku is to put your focus on using your senses:
- What do you hear (don’t be fooled by the loudest noise, find and take notice of subtler sounds)
- What do you smell?
- What can you touch?
- What can you see?
Enjoy Every Sunset
Sometimes, we all just need a little reminder that life goes by pretty fast and if we don’t stop and look around once in a while, we could very well miss it.
Below, we will take you on the same guided sunset hike that we went on during our May Super Soul.
We chose an area of town that most folks rarely visit and to me is a hidden gem in the city, especially in Spring with everything in bloom – Sondemann Park. This park is located within the Catamount Institute’s Beidleman Environmental Center (named after Dr. Richard and the late Mrs. Reba Beidleman).
Thanks to one of our newcomers, she shared the rich history behind this park. Named after a Holocaust Survivor and Colorado College Professor, Fred Sondemann. An interesting read on his background can be found here. He additionally was featured as part of a documentary that explored his return as an American Jew to his German homeland after 30 years.
This park is an oasis of wilderness and has just about everything you can imagine: walking trails that will give you both mountain and city views, a creek-side stream, bridges, picnic tables, beautiful flowers, trees galore and a variety of bird and wild life.
How to get there: The park sits just off of I-25 and Fontenero at 740 W Caramillo St, Colorado Springs, CO 80907.
TOUCH – Go ahead and touch. Touch the water and feel how cold it is. Touch the bark on the trees and feel the roughness. Touch the woolly mullein and feel its softness. Feel the wind on your face.
Throughout this walk in nature, all of the ladies discovered that their senses were awakened and heightened in new and various ways and a sense of invigoration and calmness was felt.
A Moment of Darkness
After a small dose of “forest bathing”, we went for a fast-paced, scenic, sunset hike through the valley that took us up on a ridge for a mountain and city view. The hike sped up just a bit after it quickly turned dark on us midway through and after one of our friends had a run-in with some cacti (nothing like keeping things interesting!). Glad everyone found the humor in it all.
The point of going on the two different walks was to show everyone how wandering aimlessly using your senses vs. a hike with a destination can feel drastically different.
Here are a few pics from the evening:
The ladies walked away from the evening with a discovery that they may just have found a new way to walk in this world. I hope you will try it too.