April 15, 2017

Forest Bathing and Awkward Anniversarys


photopixabay
By Crabby McSlacker

Yep, Today Cranky Fitness is 10 years old.

Holy crap, right? It's hard to believe. How could such a half-assed enterprise have endured an entire decade?

The quick answer is of course: it hasn't. Not really. That's why it's an awkward anniversary. I've taken huge breaks, wandered away, reappeared, disappeared again, and generally gotten shockingly irresponsible about  blogging

But hey... somehow the blog is still here!

So you may have questions: what does the blog anniversary have to do with Forest Bathing? What the hell is forest bathing? And will this post contain any gratuitous nudity?


OK, so basically, the practice of shinrin-yoku, or "forest bathing," is just a glorified walk in the woods. But it's a very mindful, immersive walk in the woods, and involves breathing in healthy phytoncydes that the plants emit, and reaping various physical and psychological benefits.

So no, you are not literally taking a bath in the woods, and as far as I know you are not required to remove your clothing. Though to answer question (3), we could always pretend you are.


photo: pixabay
Gratuitous glutes! But sorry gals, I'm guessing he plays for the other team.


photo: wikimedia commons
Am I the only one thinking: Brazilians over a hundred years ago? Really?

Anyway. To answer the remaining question:

There is no connection at all between Cranky Fitness turning 10 and shirin-yoku.

But here's the thing: I wanted to acknowledge the Big Blog Anniversary today. Yet the only thing I really felt compelled to say about it was a heartfelt THANK YOU to all the wonderful people who have read, commented, and contributed throughout the years!

Really, you guys are awesome. (And no one can convince me that a virtual community is any less real than any other kind of community. I've met so many wonderful folks through this weird blog. Why else would I keep coming back?) Again, thank you all so much! Have some cake!

Photo by normanack 

But um, that's not much of a blog post, is it? What else?

Thus the Forest Bathing. Because along with the whole Danish hygge obsession, it has been stalking me all over the interwebs lately, popping up where I least expect it, infiltrating various articles and newslettters and my facebook feed.

Forest bathing is newly trendy, threatening to become the next Yoga, and it's a made-to-order Cranky Fitness Mini-Rant topic. Why? Because it's good for you, a little offbeat, I totally approve of it...and it's totally fucking irritating.

Why Forest Bathing is Good For You


The health benefits are not of the "vigorous hike" sort. Unless you're pretty sedentary, it's not much in the way of exercise. The whole point is to be slow and deliberate.

But apparently the sensory immersion itself can lower blood pressure, relieve stress, improve memory, boost mood, and even help your immune system work better.

OK, so I didn't do much research myself. But The Washington Post review some of the research on purported shinrin-yoku health benefits and so does USA Today. Neither seem to think it's entirely bogus.

And since both mediation and being outdoors in nature have a research-based track record of providing physiological and psychological health benefits, it ain't exactly a big shock that a meditative walk in the woods might be a good idea.

I spend a lot of time doing various crazy-pants meditation walks and can attest to their efficacy in inducing a blissful, trippy experience... at least sometimes.

Why Forest Bathing Should Just Shut Up Now


I have no objection to the  practice of walking in the woods. (Or on the seashore, or the plains, or in the park, or wherever nature may be found). Being all mindful, breathing in the scents, feeling the textures, noticing all the glorious sights and scents, appreciating the intricate natural fractal patterns nature creates for you, allowing the sun and the breeze to heat and cool your skin?  That part is wonderful and no one can say too much about that.

But the part where you're supposed to hire a specially trained forest therapy guide? Or spring for a hotel package or an expensive retreat in order to figure out how to appreciate nature?

I guess the fact that people are making money selling "the forest" as an experience that must be curated depresses me.

Even as I realize that, well, it sort of makes sense. Because with our achievement-oriented, consumerist, stressed out, obsessive culture, it's totally possible to take a walk in the woods and miss everything that's special about it.



I've spent years trying to cultivate the ability to appreciate the present moment, and even with tons of practice I suck at it. Perhaps paying someone to help you see what's right in front of you isn't necessarily that stupid.

But here's a suggestion. Before you spring for an expensive Forest Bathing Retreat, try stepping out into your own backyard. Even if there are only a few scraggly weeds poking up through cracks in the asphalt, or some ants scurrying around being industrious, or a few puffy clouds drifting by, or birds trilling out the boundaries or their territories, it's enough. There is a world out there to immerse yourself in, wherever you are, even if it's not a spectacular, specially-certified forest trail. But it takes a certain sort of attention to really experience that world, and for many of us that doesn't come naturally. We have to practice.

It's the practice. Not the forest.

But forests are super nice too. I'm all for bathing in them.

What do you think of "Forest Bathing?" Or, what were YOU doing 10 years ago?

34 comments:

  1. I'm totally with you on forest bathing – I LOVE hiking in the woods, but turning it into some trendy industry, well...

    And, 10 years ago I was getting ready to finish up my stint in grad school, painting furiously for my thesis exhibition and writing papers. I'm glad to be done with all that!

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  2. Glad I'm not the only one who has an allergic reaction to trendy industries Amy! And isn't it amazing how quickly 10 years goes by? (And I don't know about you but no matter how far out of school I get I still have those nightmares about impending final exams in classes I somehow forgot I signed up for).

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  3. Forest bathing? Oh, hell yes. I do it every chance I get. But a forest therapy guide? What a load of very bad words inserted here.

    Crabby, congratulations on 10 years. It flew by. I've always enjoyed your posts.
    I have a question. Not to bring up the past ( but I have to) what was the earliest incarnation of your blog called? It went by something else for a few months then became what it is today. I only recall it because we got into a discussion on orange juice with fish oil and did it give fish burps afterward.

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    1. Leah, I think you are possibly the earliest visitor who still reads the blog, and for that I'm so grateful!

      OK, here's the sad thing: I remember that I changed the name, but have no memory of what it used to be. And fish burps! I love that one of the things that you remember from the early days is the fish burp discussion!

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  4. GAH! 10 YEARS OLD! HOLY CRAP! You have almost a teenage on your hands! LOL! GOOD LUCK WITH THAT -lmfao!!!!!!!

    Er um. 10 years ago. 2007. I was in college and wanting to kill myself, cause I hate school SOOOOOOOOOO much. And sadly, I was only a sophmore at that time, so I had a few more years to go. WOMP WOMP! I do not wish for those days to repeat themselves, that's for sure!

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    1. Oh and I think I saw that dude with the tight buns in West Hollywood yesterday ;)

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  5. Whoa Gigi, shows how little I know, I would have totally guessed you rocked college and were the most popular, clever, happy, and accomplished student that ever was.

    So sorry that wasn't the case! Sounds like it really sucked. But OMG, sure seems like you're making up for it now!

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  6. I am eating supper. It is good that my mouth was not full when I read Forest Therapy Guide.

    Ten years ago I was anxiously awaiting the completion of the house my father and I were building, while he slept on a bed in my living room and miraculously did not trip on any of the little ups and downs on my first floor and break his hip again. When I visited the construction site, and after we moved, I did lots of forest bathing. Sorry I had to sell that house after he died.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. Somehow, Mary Anne, I can't see you wasting money on a Forest Therapy retreat when you have such an appreciation of the beauty all around you! And I remember how hard it was for you to sell that house. :(

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    2. Just think, if I could have kept it I could be starting my own Forest Therapy business right now! ;)
      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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  7. Hadn't heard about this trend, and i will continue to just step outside and talk to the trees across the street. (Yes, i talk to them, yes, i'm weird, i've heard talking to your plants is good for them, so i go talk to the trees.)

    Happy Blogaversary!

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    1. Talking to trees is not weird messymimi, it's endearing and I'm certain they appreciate it!

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    2. I talk to trees too, so high five! :-D

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  8. Happy 10th Anniversary!!! "Forest bathing" is a term that grates on my nerves. But I sure do love to walk in the woods. Really looking forward to seeing carpets of trilliums in the near future!

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    1. I confess I had to google Kimberley but trillium carpets! Yes!!!

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  9. Ten years? No way! I don't believe it. I'm sorry, but that can't be true.
    Wait. That's also my reaction to politics these days.
    Maybe I'm going to react to growing older by developing a permanent state of disbelief.

    Forest bathing is not something I'd heard of before. I thought at first it was a spoof, like this Onion article:
    Relationship Experts Recommend Single Women Try Bathing In Open Stream Until Suitor Glimpses Them Through Trees

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    1. OK, that Onion piece totally made me laugh, thanks for that Merry! I guess as long as one is out in the woods immersing oneself in potent tree-breath, I suppose a discreet little dip in a pond and some hair tossing couldn't hurt...

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  10. Congrats on the anniversary, Crabby! My old blog from back then still exists, but it never had the degree of focus that yours does. Even with the occasional hiatus, that is admirable consistency, so go you!

    Ten years ago I was about to get the job that led me to being able to forest bathe (guide-free, tyvm) in my backyard every day. What a happy thought! Now that I'm getting settled in to the new house and job, I'll be able to pay attention to fitness again, so I've got some catching up to do over here. Don't mind me if I comment on old posts. :-D

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    1. Heather, I LOVE your comments so please, knock yourself out! And it's great to see you posting in Orks and Cats, really appreciate all your verbings.

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  11. Okay, when I hear "forest bathing" that makes me think of going swimming in the forest; possibly because, every now and then, we used to hike back to a water fall and swim in the (extremely cold) pool there when I was growing up. But, I was fortunate enough to grow up in the country, and in the same spot where my Dad grew up, so he knows pretty much every nook and cranny.

    I love walking in the woods, but I grew up doing that so the idea of needing to hire a guide seems...strange and unlikely. But, I suppose there are some people out there who have never spent much time outdoors/in the woods, and maybe they would need a little guidance? Still doesn't seem like that would be enough to build a whole industry around.

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    1. Cold pool swimming? Yikes, JavaChick, you must have been a hearty kid. I've always hated and feared cold water immersion.

      I think hiring a forest guide to keep one from getting lost or wandering into hibernating bear caves makes sense! But when it comes to breathing the air and looking around at stuff, I'm pretty skeptical. But people apparently pay for it!

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  12. Ten years and still ticking. Yeah for you!
    I noticed that when we came back from camping a few weeks ago, we were almost euphoric with positive energies and vibes! We had gone on a trail that we did last year, but we went slower. Slowing down and actually SEEING things, makes a huge difference. If that is forest bathing, then I am ready for another bath! :D
    Here's to another ten years!!! Huzzah!!!!!

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    1. Sounds like you could be a Forest Bathing guide yourself Sherri, you've totally got the right idea. And yay for euphoria!!

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  13. Massive congratulations on ten years! I hope my blog goes for that long. Enjoy your day!

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  14. wow time flies!!! I have been blogging 7 years weird huh!!! Happy Blog-a-versary!!!

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  15. Happy anniversary ! Enjoy life and keep up the good work ! See you in ten more years !

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  16. I SERIOUSLY CANNNNNOT BELIEVE HOW LONG WE'VE BEEN AT THIS.
    Yes Im shouting.
    It's that level of disbelief :-)

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  17. Congratulations on ten years! Ten years ago I was getting married and moving house - all within a week. Most stressful time of my life, haha!

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  18. I love wood walks with the family, with our clothes on though! Ha! I hadn't heard the term 'forest bathing' before until now. Ten years ago, wow, such a long time ago. I think I was living in the north east and working at a local gym back then. Time flies!

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  19. Yay, Cranky! I was so thrilled when you visited my brand new blog back when oxygen was forming. You and the Lobster continue to be Whole Living models for the rest of us. Carry on!

    (And I'm pretty sure that one picture of the Brazilian nymphs is what went wrong for Ruskin.)

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  20. Yay! Well done on ten year of the blog! My blog is only a few years old but I hope it gets to ten. Let me see, ten years ago I don't even think I was running back then so I guess I've accomplished quite a bit with my running since joining a club.

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  21. Loving the picture used at the start. Very aesthetic. Although i have done lot of hiking in forest mountains, but never tried forest bathing in my Life.

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  22. Happy Anniversary Crabby, nice one!

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  23. Um, I just met you...and call me crazy...but I think I love you. Happy 10th and I look forward to reading the last 10 and the next ten too!

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