As the world slowly goes back to normal, we are not only creating a new balance with ourselves, but also with our environment – specifically nature. How do you create a new connection with nature, and what elements can help in this?
Eefje Ludwig, founder The Forest Bathing Circle, knows better than anyone how to reconnect with yourself through nature. In 2019 she came across the term ‘forest bathing’. Eefje: “Forest bathing involves invitations (exercises) that stimulate the senses, and serve as a tool to help people get closer to themselves by building a bridge between humans and nature. It’s about taking the time and space to marvel at what you register in that natural environment, using whatever sense you have.”
Originating in the 1980s in Japan, today it is a technique that is also becoming popular in Europe and The Netherlands. “In Japan it has become such a success that it has become fully embedded in the health care system, and it can even be prescribed by doctors as a tool to improve your health. What I find so interesting is that there is so much theory and science behind the concept of forest bathing. Studies show that when we feel connected to nature, we also start to take better care of nature and the planet, which of course makes a lot of sense.”
From group sessions to audio tours, there is a way for everyone to experience forest bathing: “There are sessions I plan that people can sign up for, as well as audio guides and private sessions – from groups of friends to team outings or groups of directors in a leadership program.” The various exercises create an effect that Eefje describes not just as mindfulness but bodyfulness. “It’s about being connected to your whole physical being. Understanding how you move through the world, how your body inhibits or cultivates relationships, and how the way you move affects your personal potential.”
Change of consciousness
It is clear; forest bathing can be one of the ways to get closer to ourselves and our natural environment. According to Eefje, it can be a structural technique to strengthen that connection. “I believe that we as a society and human species benefit from a deeper connection with nature. I hope that I can plant the seed that forest bathing is not something you do once as a fun activity, but that it really brings a consciousness change in people, causing us to relate differently to our environment.”