Tuesday, October 5, 2010

So We Went Forest Bathing...

© ccpeep. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.

My mother-in-law asked me if there were other people around. I guess when you tell someone that you have been "forest bathing" they think you were taking an actual bath of some sort. But "forest bathing" is a Japanese term for getting out in the green landscape to soak up whatever hidden benefits exist out there.

There has always been the sense that being out in nature is good for you. The Japanese have done actual research in this direction finding it is good for a lot of maladies such as diabetes.

So we went forest bathing... and no there weren't any people about as if that mattered. We kept our clothes on anyway.

But I did decide to experiment with taking off my shoes and hiking barefoot as well. It was very interesting. Feet are smarter than you think.

For one thing it is very challenging but not beyond the capability of my feet. On one hand I walk around the house a lot barefooted. It is one of the advantages of a home office. But the forest floor has a lot more variety and challenge than a wood floor.

There are sharp areas of stone that is fragmented and sharp. There are soft areas of beaten down grass and layers of pine needles. And there are broken branches fallen from the trees above.

I didn't like the broken branches. They were pointed at times and too much for me. Also I was able to get sap all over my feet that was very difficult to remove.

Funny enough the sharp stones didn't bother me all that much as I soon learn how to manage them under foot. Your feet really do get smarter the more you do this. Even though I would hit something sharp my foot would reflexively react to soften the contact.

I read a scientific paper on this once. It seems with have a defensive reflex response in our feet to sharp objects.

We had our house re-stuccoed. What happens as they are pounding in the stucco nails is that the workmen occasionally miss and a stucco nail flies out into the yard.

A stucco nail has a flat head like a large washer. After a couple of years laying in the soil the nails become rusted and nasty.

I have step on several of them in my bare feet and never been punctured. My feet would kind of wrap around them cradling them and protecting me from a serious injury.

So hiking through a variety of surfaces there seem to be a constant adjustments. My feet were humming at the end of all this. And my mind and body felt great from all the great forest bathing.

Would I do it again? Most certainly but avoiding those sappy sticks next time.

Would you go "forest bathing'? How about barefooted hiking?

Kevin Kunz


Ien in the Kootenays said...

Nice post Kevin. I live surrounded by forest all the time, my life is Nature bathing! But I must admit to being a total coward about walking barefoot.

Footlady said...

Try using butter to remove the sap next time! It sounds weird - but it works!