FLIP THROUGH THE GALLERY ABOVE for the best three places to enjoy a meditation experience in Wollongong.
Having travelled to Japan, I’m sold on the benefits of absorbing the stillness of nature and meditation together. The Japanese relish being outdoors and especially nurture their connection to nature as part of a zen lifestyle.
Shinrin-yoku is the Japanese phrase which describes “forest bathing or therapy”, the art of being in nature with no effort and simply just being.
Shinrin-yoku has many documented scientific benefits which last long after your visit into nature, mainly due to the release of phytoncides (essential oils released by plants, trees and insects) which have a positive effect on the immune system.
Time spent in nature is also linked to decreased blood pressure and a general reduction in stress and depression. The experience is likened to natural aromatherapy.
The best part of this type of meditation and nature therapy? It requires zero experience and no specific pose or skill. Simply walking in nature, being mindful and relaxing will give you the full benefits of the practice.
So how do you get the most benefits from Shinrin-yoku?
- Choose areas that are beautiful and peaceful
- Walk slowly and in silence, take your time, stop and touch leaves, feel the smooth rocks, look up, feel the sun on your face. Take notice of all of your senses; what can you smell, feel, see, hear?
- Rest in a nice quiet spot, take off your shoes and feel the ground; maybe even dip your feet in running water.
- Close your eyes and imagine all of the natural healing energy from the earth running up, seeping through the soles of your feet as you absorb the energy from deep in the ground like roots of a tree into your body, healing and energising every cell (a beautiful analogy, isn’t it!).
- Shinrin-yoku also claims to enhance deeper friendships, so this experience is best shared with a special friend or so (much safer too).
- By all means take your phone with you for safety, but turn it off or to silent while you are enjoying your mindfulness experience, as you would for any meditation.
Don’t forget the general safety cautions for bushwalking: tell a friend where you are going and how long you will be, pack enough water and food and especially the appropriate clothes – your body temperature can drop whilst you meditate - and you may want to pack a little cushion or rug to sit on. Don’t attempt to sit on the edge of cliffs to meditate - this is not the point and is extremely dangerous. The idea is to sit in a forest. Be cautious of snake hazards as you would on any other walk.
For more information on these walks and more, visit the Bushwalk the Gong Facebook page or Instagram account @bushwalkthegong