For those of you not accustomed to the Japanese term Shinrin-Yoku you'll have to wait a little longer to find out, as we'd like to set the scene. You divergent thinkers might guess from the images above.
We, along with the growing majority, live in a busy city, an urban hubbub; a melting pot of people racing around, traffic consuming every road and different cultures bustling on every street corner. It's all here and most of the time it's amazing, or at least incredibly stimulating! But it takes its toll on your senses after months of city living.
When you think of other urban meccas' you may think of places like Tokyo, and it turns out the Japanese have conceived a term to define the plight of living in a modern city and how to esacape it; Shinrin - Yoku. It's not just escaping cities but moreso an experiential medicine for soothing the human soul. Japan and it's vast cultural heritage is definitely onto something, just take a look at their life expectancies compared to other developed nations. It's as if the Japanese remembered what the rest of the world forgot. That we all developed from an intrinsic relationship with our natural environment. Has modern culture forgotten this?
So, Shinrin-Yoko translates as 'forest bathing'. Describing the process of being at one in nature, which has been developed into a medical solution for an array of ailments (blood pressure, anxiety, improved sleep and more). It's not rocket science, just get out there embrace the trees, fauna and flora of your local woods. It's like meditating but with your eyes and ears open!
Mali spent the weekend in nature with forest bathing at the forefront of our minds. We're both reflective people, who both practice mediatition but walking through Epping forest listening to rain hitting leaves, branches adjust to wind and overlapping fauna was a powerful and incredibly relaxing experience. Ultimately, forest bathing had a rejuvenating affect on us as we were cut off from the world, surrounded by green, harking back to days as children when forests were earths natural playground.
We decided on a transport free route; walking the canal North to Chingford, camping on the edge of Waltham Abbey. It was a gruelling walk, ground down by a late Saturday the night before. If you ever retrace our walk be sure to avoid the stretch marked in black, it was just a horrible road. To make up for this we set our sense alive with a delicious meal from our Syrian cookbook, an IPA at the Plough and hit the sack for 10pm (who said we aren't crazy?). The next day we struck into the heart of the forest intent on getting away from roads, shops and concrete, we succeeded.
After a day of trekking in the wilderness our minds felt cleansed, gone was the desire to check our phones every five minutes; turning our gaze instead to the beauty around us. In contrast, the second we stepped off the train at Clapton it was hard to capture the same transience of earlier. The noise, commotion and flicker of traffic jolted us right back into normality. But we left the country with a new perspective on the wonders that a life outdoors can offer.
So the moral is; unplug from urban living and do as the Japanese do; take in the forest atmosphere.