Notes on forest bathing (July 2021)
Guardian article on forest bathing
I went to a session one Sunday, in some woods near Reading.
There were a few interesting things about it:
- You spend some time "onboarding" to a different reality, which they called "coming to your senses". This involved closing eyes, which of course brings the ear out as a sense, then you cycle through the others, smell and taste. It was interesting to me, in the context of VR, how other experiences also require an onboard phase.
- The point is to feel a part of nature, not visiting it as a stranger/bystander. So it's "immersive" in intention.
- You are encouraged to choose a "nature ally" early on, a small object from the forest that you feel an attachment to. I chose a piece of charred wood.
- You walk through the forest very slowly, placing foot down in specific phased manner, which is not something I've done before, waiting for "invitations" ie little interesting things that you then go and investigate. So you are encouraged to pick up a few objects and consider how they got there, how old they might be etc.
- The slowness does something, you get quite into it.
- There's some science behind it: plants and particularly trees apparently release chemicals called "Phytoncides" which are good for our white blood cells develoment. I knew this about kicking leaves and playing in mud, but not specifically about trees.
I did quite a lot of drawing:
The following images are of some of the objects I picked up = leaf, stone, beech mask. The stone was very shiny.
Towards the end of the session, we were instructed to find a tree and observe it, touch it, sit beneath it, look up at it's crown.
Something I noticed about my drawing was that I drew the same thing twice a couple of times, which is unusual for me. Also, the new persepctive afforded by sitting under the tree and looking up was very eye-opening for me.
I also took time to look at the roots, which I've never really observed or drawn before.