16 Nov, 2018

Bush Bathing

Bush Bathing

Since time immemorial, we have known that it makes us feel well to simply be in nature. Restorative, rejuvenating and even primitive - the act of letting oneself be washed over by the natural environment has been proven by numerous studies (like this one) to have positive effects on our physical and mental health.

In Japan, shinrin-yoku (Shinrin means “forest,” and yoku means “bath” in Japanese) is common practice, with over 48 designated Forest Therapy trails designated by Japan’s Forestry agency and over 50 more on the cards in the next ten years. It’s considered preventative medicine there, with city-dwellers taking day trips out to regional trails and even guided walks on offer to help people forest-bathe more effectively.

Meandering through the bush without intention, or rather, with the intention of simply just being in the bush.

At Southern Wild Co. we often practice ‘Bush Bathing’ – our uniquely Australian take on Japanese Forest Bathing. It’s our kind of meditation, meandering through the bush without intention, or rather, with the intention of simply just being in the bush.

When we acknowledge our immediate surroundings we have found that it can invite moments of clarity and a sense of greater peace. Sometimes we return home feeling more creative, energised or re-focused, or just better adjusted in our everyday actions.

You don’t have to be in the country to go bush-bathing either, finding a nature reserve in the city or a park by a riverbank can be similarly beneficial. It simply involves dedicating the time for it and maintaining an awareness of your intention. So how to do it? Leave your phone at home (or in the car) as you’ll need to be present and not too distracted. The idea is to be fully present in your environment and guided by your body. Consider where you feel drawn to and head in that direction. Take deep breaths. Spend time time focusing on each of the five senses and pay attention to the responses of your eyes, ears, mouth, nose, hands and feet.

We see bush bathing as a sensory rehabilitation for one’s soul.

We see bush bathing as a sensory rehabilitation for one’s soul. Taking the time to hear the babbling of a creek, feel the wind rushing through the canopy, acknowledging the strong, clean smell of eucalypt trees, cut with damp earthen foliage. Noticing how all of these things make you feel and the sensory reactions that they can have on your body. It may seem simple or idealistic, but it is really, very good for you.

There are many ways to bush bathe, and if you’d rather practise it more actively you might choose to pursue a mindful activity in the bush, such as painting en plein air, tai-chi, bird watching or stretching. After bush-bathing, we recommend noting down how you feel that evening, and even for the rest of the week. You may feel noticeably different or the effects may be subtle.  No matter where, or how you choose to go bush bathing, what’s necessary to the process is your time, an awareness of your senses, fresh air and of course, trees. Lots of them. 

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