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In search of mental peace through practice of mindfulness

Representational image — Reuters/Files Representational image — Reuters/Files

If you were asked to choose one habit that you’d like to hold onto for the rest of your life, what would it be? It is mindfulness, most of the Gen Z and millennials would reply. The reply would be so because – as we age we learn the greater importance of mental clarity and perseverance and many other skills that are synonymous with being mindful.

Given its popularity, nowadays people are researching and tabling new mindfulness practices. Starting from basic journaling to Yoga Nidra, or Yogic sleep - there are so many procedures that can often end up confusing people. Again, not all mindfulness practices suit everyone. It is up to the people to stay aware of their specific issue and have the mentality of experimenting a bit before settling on their mindfulness ritual.

With the cottagecore lifestyle becoming popular during the quarantine and trending on social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Tumblr, you have probably noticed that it consists of a mandatory ritual of having a walk in the most nearby forestry area. The ritual is known as Shinrin-Yoku, translated into English as ‘forest bathing’.

Forest bathing is one of the many mindfulness rituals invented by Japanese meditators in the 1980s. Gradually it started spreading outside Japan and became popular in other countries too. Even the countries - which cannot afford to have forest areas or are mostly city-centric - have people who regularly take part in forest bathing.

Forest bathing is a Japanese process of body and mind relaxation in the presence of trees and greens. This method includes us, the human beings, imitating the lifestyle of trees for a while, following their calm and quiet posture, while breathing in the oxygen to our heart’s fullest.

In this therapy, a person is supposed to spend some time in the forest or forest-simulated ambience, alone or in a group, in solitude, while being immersed in the sights, sounds, and smells of the green. All in all, forest bathing is about indulging our five senses in the visual and abstract elements of a forest. The Japanese are very fond of this ecotherapy, which they also call mobile meditation.

Although it is primarily used for de-stressing the body and relaxing the mind, it is also famous for its immunity-boosting precedents. Several studies have been conducted on it so far and in each of them, forest bathing has proven to work on basic physical ailment as well as reducing stress, anger, anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness amongst the participants. It is a type of simulated therapy that is suitable for people of all ages and gender.

But once you think about managing time to practise it amid all the hustle-bustle of city life, tension begins. Well, it’s identical to going to a spa. They use aromatherapy as well as various natural organic elements for physical therapy while some very pleasant white noise or music keeps on being played in the background in their artificially decorated spa room. It is basically about creating a simulated forest ambience while stimulating one’s auditory, smelling, and touching senses.

Nevertheless, not all can afford a spa. But creating spa vibes, or in other words creating a forest ambience in one’s own bedroom, is not that tough to achieve.

The steps are simple to sink in a forest bath in your own room.

You can start it lighting up a candle with mint or lime grass, followed by switching off gadgets, turning off the lights, and removing anything from your surroundings that can cause distraction; and playing some forest-based white noise in the background and seeing some pictures or videos of the forest to amp up your imagination. And then you need to do a five-minute breathing exercise with your eyes closed, to imagine yourself being in the forest, to try to notice the details of the sounds and the smell and to give in to your forestry imagination.

Forest bathing can be a hard thing to hone, especially if you’re practising it from your den. Again, you should know that therapies like this do not provide an instant gratification, lest you expect it.

But if you patiently continue to do it rightly suiting your purpose, then one day you’d be able to enjoy the full goodness of forest bathing. Be it in Bangladesh or in the green terrains of Oyama, forest bathing will give you the mental peace and tranquility you want only if you practise it sincerely.

Rifah Nawar is a certified Creative Strategy Professional and the co-founder and chief editor of Nutshell Today. E-mail: [email protected]

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