Forest bathing to wash away stress at festival

The Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival will be in Auburn Botanic Gardens on Saturday, August 17, to to Sunday, August 25, 9am-5pm.

‘THE forest is for-rest’ – and with that in mind, the Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival is inviting Sydney-siders to put away their screens and digital distractions and try the Japanese practice of “shinrin yoku” at the Auburn Botanic Gardens.
Inspired by ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices, “shinrin yoku” is translated into English as “forest bathing” (shinrin = forest, yoku = to bathe, shower, bask in).
The idea is to conscientiously spend time in a forest or woods and let nature enter the body through all five senses, including taste.
The benefits, supported by nearly four decades of research in Japan, include lower blood pressure, strengthened immune system and better mental health outcomes.
One of Australia’s foremost practitioners of forest bathing, is Alima Clarke of Forest Therapy Blue Mountains.
“The bathing is not literal bathing but an invitation to ‘bathe’ in the natural essence of the forest or treed parkland,” Alima said.
“Facilitators gently guide participants through a series of sensory experiences that promotes the relaxation of our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response).
“Overactivity of our fight or flight response can equate with increased cortisol (stress) levels, anxiety, tiredness and exhaustion, lowered immunity and digestive problems.”
She said most people lived busy lives, in a high-tech and fast paced world, where business and constant achievement is an expectation.
“This constant engagement, be it with screens, social media, emails and work, means it is harder for us to relax, switch-off and take time for rest and renewal,” she said.
“Individuals need to take charge and give themselves ‘permission’ to take time-out for restorative rest and renewal, and the forest is a perfect place to achieve this.
“In offering forest bathing experiences, we see the forest as the ‘teacher.’
“At Forest Therapy Blue Mountains, our guiding phrase is, ‘The forest is for-rest’.”
One hour forest bathing experiences will be offered on select days throughout the festival.
Details and program: