I was entranced to discover there is a word for the feeling of well being I share with millions of you – Shinrin-yoku, a Japanese term that means “forest bathing”. The idea being that spending time in the forest and natural areas is good preventative medicine, lowering stress. Allelochemic substances ‘phytonicides’help slow the growth of fungi and bacteria. When humans are exposed to them, these chemicals are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, relieve stress and boost the growth of white blood cells. garlic, onion, pine, tea tree and oak are all examples of plants emitting phytonicides.
When we walk in Scotland, we spend most of our time simply being in the landscape, enjoying the feeling of well-being that we both find there. I take lots of photographs there and these inform much of what I do when I am creating both illustration and the handmade books. I go back to those photographs time and again, both to recreate the feeling of creativity, and to inspire new designs. Just browsing through my back catalogue provokes a feeling of joy, remembered tranquillity and when I am in a slump of not knowing how to move forward, I take a step back and invariably come across something to make the spark reignite.
Today I rediscovered these woods, and immediately I am reminded of the wonderful treatise by Herman Hesse on the sanctuary of trees. I breathed a sigh of recognition when I first read his words – they are beautiful – I can only urge you to find a copy.
You can find the essay online here ; Herman Hesse Wandering
In the meantime, don’t forget to get some time in to shinrin-yoku