Early this year articles popped up everywhere about an intriguing Japanese concept known as forest bathing. But what exactly is it? Shinrin-yoku, shinrin meaning “forest” and yoku meaning “bath,” is not a practice that is just now becoming common, but has only recently been called what it is. In Japan the practice is taken quite seriously, but many others have applied this concept on their own – perhaps without even realizing it. The big reward, however, is that the practice has proven to have immense health benefits, and you can apply this to your Belize wellness vacation.
Dr. Qing Li, author of “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness,” explains it as taking in the forest through our senses. If you’re a Healthful Adventurer, perhaps you do this on a regular basis; taking walks in your hometown park or hiking at the nearest national park whenever you can. However, there’s nothing quite like forest bathing in a vast expanse of pine trees and waterfalls.
Forest Bathing in Belize:
What’s so great about Belize having more than 50% of its land forested is that you can forest bathe anywhere. Imagine, walking through the canopies at Cockscomb Basin, the only sounds are the Aracaris chirping in the trees and the soil crunching beneath your boots. Now and then, you hear the gentle babble of a creek where (perhaps) jaguars stop for a refreshing drink in the evening. The pine forests in our small country is the perfect mold to practice this concept that has proved to be extremely good for you, both physically and mentally. One way Dr. Qing explains the rejuvenating practice is, “Shinrin-Yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.”
In Japan, where the practice originated, there are many guides that specialize in exactly that, but you don’t need a guide to forest bathe in Belize. Simply venturing off in the backyard of your hotel or taking a moment at the summit of Victoria Peak to breath in the forest and breathe out peace is enough.
The concept must include all senses (if possible): seeing the rolling valleys of the Mountain Pine Ridge below, smelling the pine leaves above, feeling the soft damp soil, hearing the lull of Rio on Pools and tasting the crisp air.
Now in the time of Instagram-worthy challenges do we need forest bathing more than ever. Sure, you might not get that like-worthy photo op of Butterfly Falls. But when simply sitting, appreciating the cascading water that caresses your mental health, who’s the real winner here then?
For more information on wellness activities in Belize, feel free to email us at [email protected] or call us toll-free at 1-800-624-0686.