Garden Bathing – an introduction
If you’ve heard of forest bathing, then garden bathing will make complete sense to you! It’s very much the same approach; engaging with nature for the purpose of finding beautifully calm still moments for reflection, rest and renewal.
According to Gary Evans, director of the Forest Bathing Institute, “Shinrin-yoku (Forest Bathing) best translates as immersion in the forest atmosphere for health and well-being” and that “to alleviate stress, we must spend continuous time under the treetops.”.
According to Dr. Qing Li, world expert in forest medicine and author of “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness,” mindful time in nature can significantly reduce stress levels and blood pressure and strengthen your cardiovascular and immune systems. It can also boost concentration, creativity, mood, and energy levels.
So, garden bathing is a thing, and you can do it in your own garden – or in public gardens that you find in your own area, or places you find yourself in when on the road for work or travelling for fun and leisure.
I love visiting gardens when I travel. Previous gardens that I’ve spent glorious time bathing in have included the Flower Dome at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand’s Waikato region, and of course, Sydney’s own Royal Botanic Gardens.
Hi there, I'm Jordan - thanks for visiting my website!
I'm an abstract painter, writer and digital producer. I'm passionate about all aspects of creativity and incorporate the practice of mindfulness into many of my programmes. I also lead creative teams and over the last fifteen years I've led, coached and developed creative professionals in Sydney, Singapore and Wellington.
I'm passionate about helping others like you to explore your creative spirit. My creativity courses invite you to explore elements of creativity, leadership, wellness, personal evolution, digital savvy and artistic expression.
What’s even better that regular Garden Bathing? Discovering a SECRET garden to bathe in!
We’ve lived in New Zealand for four years now – and have loved every minute of it. So, coming back on our first trip to Sydney was a bit of a shock! I didn’t realise just how much I had gotten use to the slower, quieter lifestyle we’ve been living till we got back to the big smoke.
So, imagine my delight when I stumbled on Wendy Whiteley’s secret garden in Lavender Bay! I’m not quite sure how I missed this, all those years living on Sydney’s Lower North Shore. But it made it a particularly sweet accidental discovery. Particularly after trying to absorb the shock of the city and feeling just a tad overwhelmed! This place is a beautiful, calming tonic, and beautifully, generously maintained for the public to enjoy.
Find out more about Wendy Whiteley’s secret garden, and visit the Brett Whiteley studio while you’re there! https://www.wendyssecretgarden.org.au/location/
Garden Bathing – 5 reasons to try it for yourself!
1. Garden Bathing reduces sensory overwhelm, which is when your five senses—light, sound, taste, touch, and smell—take in more information that your brain can process. As soon as you step into a garden, the whole world quietens down. Traffic fades away. Crowds disperse. The bedlam of technology phones, screens and other noises become less intrusive. And your body has the chance to return to a more natural state of equilibrium. Moment by moment, gardens offer you the chance to restore, by inviting you to make contact; taking your shoes off to walk on the grass. Reaching out to touch a tree and feel its unique bark texture with your fingertips. Smelling the breeze. Taking in the greenery all around you. It only takes a few moments, it costs very little, and it’s just so good for returning to a calmer state!
2. Being in nature allows you to get out of your head and into your body. Life is pretty demanding these days. And so if we can find ourselves spending lots of time in our heads. Thinking, using logic, working, problem solving, managing demands and schedules, and planning to ensure every part of the day stays on track. But as we do so, we can lose touch with the other parts of ourselves. We can disconnect from our intuition, our felt senses, and literally, our body. Garden bathing allows us to reconnect to our body and our more creative senses by immersing ourselves in the tactile experiences of seeing, smelling, touching and feeling. And, as we relax into it, our breathing slows down and takes us out of the fight-or-flight state we seem to spend so much time in.
3. The colours! So good for creative inspiration. As much as I don’t recommend being too connected to your phone during a garden bathing experience, I do recommend it to have handy in order to take photos! I find the mindful practice of taking photos of all of the flowers that inspire me to be very therapeutic. It gives me a natural high at the time, and also allows me to look back and continue to find joy and inspiration in the flowers I find. Often, of course, they end up as inspiration for my artworks. But even if they don’t, allowing yourself a few moments to be absolutely in love with colour, to breathe it in and nourish you, is time wonderfully well spent!
4. Garden Bathing offers the chance to commune with creatures you’d usually be too busy to chat to. Sitting quietly, without distraction, allows nature to find it’s way into your sense of awareness. Other than garden bathing, the only other time I seem to hear birds is early in the morning in the studio when I’m painting. Most other times of the day, I’m too distracted, or too busy running around to sit and listen. But when you’re taking some quiet time out in a garden, that’s when nature starts to really sing. And of course, you only have to watch the grass, or gaze at different plants and flowers for a short time, before a new world begins to appear. Bugs, creatures and critters all going about living their lives start to make themselves known. The breeze whistles. Birds sing. Suddenly a whole new symphony roars into your awareness. And to think, this micro-world is always here, whether you see it or not. Enjoy a few moments with the creatures and critters as a way of reconnecting to the natural world in general!
5. Gardens are full of dappled light, shade, full light and partial light – enjoy all of them! Gardens are full of different types of shade -and the broad range of trees, plants and flowers to be found can create a remarkable range of filters! Move slowly from light to shade, enjoying the transition and seeing how your body feels in each space. In Wendy’s secret garden, I felt particularly restored by the spaces in deep shade; they felt incredibly calming and safe, and restored. It’s a great way to check in with yourself and increase your level of awareness of your own needs, based on how you respond to different elements of a garden. Enjoy!
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