By: Ashley Azzinaro
Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term that translates to “forest bathing” or “absorbing the forest atmosphere”. In 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries created the term, encouraging people to simply spend time in nature. The focus being on immersing your senses in nature and present moment awareness.
Let’s take a deeper look at the senses and go beyond the 5 commonly known senses; After all, these are important pieces of how we experience our surroundings:
Proprioception – how you walk without looking at your feet, or touch your fingertip to your nose with your eyes closed: Our bodies ability to understand its position in space, allowing it to move freely within its environment, without consciously thinking about how to avoid bumping into things.
Vestibular Sense – how you can stand without holding onto something or sit upright on your own, your relation to gravity: Our bodies balance center & ability to move smoothly, processing our movements in space. (differing from proprioception that processes our bodies position in space)
Interoception – how you understand when you’re hungry, thirsty, cold, hot, or need to use the restroom. How you process pain and emotions: Our bodies ability to understand & feel what’s going on inside, and then self-regulate.
What comes naturally to you, could be a challenge for someone else. Children can be bullied for something as simple as not being able to catch a ball, for example; But they can’t help that they struggle with proprioception. Some of the most common things like stairs, ladders, or sitting up straight, can be exhausting. Understanding this and extending empathy for others could heal the hearts of many.
I’ve also observed how naturally children self regulate in nature. The same child that struggles and shies away from ladders on the playground, chooses to approach ladders like logs. It’s as though mother earth guides us into the deepest parts of ourselves.
As an activity and status driven culture, we tend to lose focus of our heart space. The present moment is often lost to a blur of future planning or past regrets. We may feel lost at times, but we can be found again in nature.
The sheer act of sitting on a log, processing your relation to the space around you, and feeling—is a miracle of life.
Big Oak Canyon is a divine place for a forest bath, and Earthroots flourishes ones connection to nature through the senses.
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