A Guide to Forest Bathing at Inchmarlo

Spending tranquil and mindful time in woodland greatly benefits the mind and soul. We’re all aware of this at some level, but the Japanese refer to it as Shinrin-Yoku, or ‘forest bathing’.

Forest Bathing offers an opportunity to take time out, away from the stresses of daily life, reconnect with nature, slow down, undergo gentle exercise, breathe deeply and think.

It’s said to promote lower concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol, and also lower pulse rates and blood pressure. Studies reveal forest bathing reduces stress, anger, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness.

At Inchmarlo Retirement Village we’ve always believed in the benefits of lush gardens, magnificent parkland and calming woodland. It’s said that the our gardens were so well known that Queen Victoria instructed her coachman to drive through Inchmarlo on her way to and from Balmoral, which is why one of the roads through the Estate is known as ‘the Queen’s Drive’.

Inchmarlo has numerous gentle walks scattered throughout the 100 acre estate, with woodland paths meandering within the six acre Woodland Garden. From the Main Drive you can see some of the tallest trees in Britain, we’re talking Chamaecytaris trees known as “The Three Ladies in Crinoline”, and, according to the Tree Register, the 6 acre Woodland Garden contains some of the largest specimen trees in Britain, some over 50 metres tall. It is an ideal spot for a relaxing walk or mindful forest bathing.

To try forest bathing at Inchmarlo here are a few essential tips.

1 Disconnect – Leave the distractions of technology at home – no phones, tablets or gadgets. It’s all about the here and now, it’s about nature. Be present in the moment.

2 Relax – This isn’t a competition. Take time away from your ambitions, your goals and your responsibilities. Let the forest take you where it will, meander, wander, with no set path, no set route and no timetable. Just be.

3 Take Your Time – Don’t rush, don’t be afraid to stop, pause, and examine. From insects on a piece of fallen bark, to the pattern of lichen on a tree trunk, to the crunch of leaves underfoot – take time over these details and you’ll feel alive and in step with nature.

4 Be Still – If you desire a rest, take a seat on one of the many benches dotted around Inchmarlo’s woodland garden. If you’re very still then animals may feel comfortable in your vicinity. Share the seasons with the wildlife, let them come to you, and watch how they behave in your presence.

5 It’s All About the Senses – Consider what you can see – colours, shapes, layers. Close your eyes to discover what you can hear – birds singing, buzzing insects, leaves blowing in the trees. Feel the dampness of moss in your hand, or the dry crunch of autumn leaves. Smell the flowers and the freshness of the air.

6 Be Silent – Some people may wish to gently sing during their forest bathing experience but be mindful of others if you’re trying this with friends or within a group. Try not to talk or distract each other from the forest and its inherent beauty. But feel free to share your observations and feelings at the end of the experience.

Inchmarlo is the perfect spot for Forest Bathing: six acres of Woodland Garden featuring 100-200 year old Scots Pines, Douglas Firs, Yews and Beeches. These and other trees form a dramatic background for a spring and early summer riot of mature Azaleas and Rhododendrons that produce an array of colours and scents. In autumn, the changing colours of the trees and shrubs are simply spectacular.

In the spring there are carpets of Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) and Snowflakes (Leucojum vernum), or early and late varieties of daffodils and wild wind flowers (Anemone nemorosa). Later in the year Primulas, Himalayan and giant poppies provide splashes of colour among the trees and shrubs.

At Inchmarlo, retirement means living life and experiencing life in all its natural glory – ‘Where Gracious Living Comes Naturally’.

To discover more about Inchmarlo, its homes, neighbourhoods, parks, woodlands and gardens, please browse our website, inchmarlo-retirement.co.uk, or phone 01330 824981.

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