Here at Hidden Botanics we believe strongly that the way to enjoy a fulfilled and prosperous life is to have an appreciation of nature and a respect for the world around us. This extends not just to the love and care we put into our floristry and the sustainability of our business and our attempts to limit the harm we cause our planet in our day to day lives, but also our support of the Japanese concept of “shinrin-yoku”.

While it directly translates as “forest shower” or “forest bathing”, let’s nip any misconceptions about what that could mean in the bud. Shinrin-yoku isn’t some new personal hygiene trend. It doesn’t recommend that the best way to clear your pores is to jump in a river (that very much depends on the river).

A more appropriate translation that gets close to the heart of what shinrin-yoku really is would be “taking in the forest atmosphere”.

See? Now put your clothes back on.

A combination of mindfulness and physical health exercise, shinrin-yoku was developed in Japan in 1982 as both a therapeutic technique as well as an initiative encouraging the populace to reconnect with nature in the midst of expansive mass urbanisation. It was hoped that this would encourage people to protect and explore the natural world. Drawing from a common wisdom amongst many cultures: that it is an undeniable good for the human body and mind to spend time in nature, Shinrin-yoku expressly revolves around the idea that in a technological world where we are all prone to exhaustion, stress and burnout, it is both important and healthy for us to take the time to remove ourselves from the artificial world and connect with nature directly.

Although Japan - rather officially - has 44 accredited shinrin-yoku forests, the practice can be done anywhere. Forest therapy is spreading worldwide, and all you need is a place where it’s possible to extract yourself from the modern world and plunge wholeheartedly into the organic, the raw, the tranquil.

To prevent confusion: it’s not a hike, it’s not a run, the practice is not about exertion, but appreciation. In cities, it’s hard to find time to escape the overwhelming sensory overload and just deeply breathe in the fresh air, so regardless of whether you’re walking between the trees or sitting amongst them, it’s still in the spirit of shinrin-yoku.

And it’s not all mindfulness and conjecture. There have been concrete studies since the 90s into the physical benefits of shinrin-yoku. Blood pressure, heart rate, hormones, nerve activity (and more) all improve after only a handful of time spent immersing oneself in nature.

You may be wondering “well now this is all well and good and that sounds like a lovely way to spend your time, but what does that have to do with me as a florist?” or perhaps you’re thinking “as florists, our work is with nature, with flowers, surely we do not need this practice - lovely as it is - as much as others?”

But that’s the thing. Florists work with flowers, and when something becomes work, we risk disconnecting from it, we risk seeing flowers as the tools of our profession as opposed to an aspect of the natural world. A florist should take the moment to reconnect with nature in general - but also the muse of their profession. Take in nature, observe and absorb the natural world, understand once again that these things, these gorgeous, beautiful, colourful, scented things that are the cause of floristry to begin with, are not merely things from nature, or objects found in nature we marvel at and arrange, but they are nature.

We owe it to ourselves and the world we all share to retain a connection to floristry not merely in practice, in understanding trends, but also in understanding that floristry arose from an observing and admiration of the natural world. An admiration we must maintain.


Cover Photo Credit : Connection Photo Blog

September 13, 2021 — Cagla Gulsah Kabaca

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