Silvotherapy: how trees help us improve
Taking a walk in the woods is one of the best natural recipes to combat stress and increase your energy. Hugging trees, in other words, the art of hugging a tree, is developing.
By revealing our need to get back to nature, trees have real life lessons to offer us. Here are some tips for getting in touch with them.
Choose "your" tree
Not all trees are created equal, but each has its own unique qualities.
"Willows provide comfort, oaks provide strength, linden provides warmth," says Laurence Monce, Naturopath.
For a first contact, Jean-Marie Defossez, a biologist, advises to be guided towards who most "speaks" to us, according to their appearance, their own affinities. It may be interesting, then, to write down the reasons that pushed us towards this or that tree, what touched us in it, what inspires us, what we imagine of its existence. Then think about what this can say about you.
Lean against the tree
"When leaning against a tree, it is recommended to stand against its north face, which can be found by looking at the trunk, which is usually mossy," says Laurence Monce. With your feet planted on the ground, if possible barefoot, the palms of your hands resting on the bark, you are here and now.
It is the most popular practice among lovers of silvotherapy. Jean-Marie Defossez suggests choosing a tree, if possible, out of sight so as not to be parasitized by discomfort.
"Close your eyes and embrace the trunk, allowing yourself to be imbued with this silent presence." The benefit comes when the mind manages to "flip the switch and see that it is the tree that embraces us."
Take a "bath in the woods"
Popular among the Japanese, the forest bath ("shinrin-yoku") can be summed up as a walk through the forest that allows you to breathe new life out of the urban hustle and bustle.
If this walk is done paying attention to your sensations, the forest bath becomes a session of meditation and relaxation, or even a health walk. The Japan Forestry Agency has shown that the blood of people who have walked in the forest contains much lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, than that of people who walk the same distance in the city. Other researchers have found a decrease in blood sugar and blood pressure. The forest bath can last 2 hours or several days.
Laurence Monce suggests this exercise, which consists of choosing two trees a few meters apart and stretching a rope between them, placed on the ground. "Then walk along the rope, looking at the ground and observing everything you see on it. Do the same in reverse and see that you are looking at things from a different point of view. This is a great way to disconnect from your thoughts".
Mobilize your senses
"To really come into contact with the tree, all the senses must be awake," explains Laurence Monce.
You have to listen to the tree, not everyone makes the same music when the wind shakes its leaves or its thorns.
Touch it, preferably with your eyes closed, to guess the crust, rough or soft, thick or thin.
Smell it, breathe in its terpenes, natural organic compounds produced by conifers and deciduous trees, with energizing properties.
Take a look at it, to enjoy the benefits of its color palette. Blue and green are known to be calming. Just looking at the blue sky through the green tree branches, we get better.
"Grow a tree"
"The breathing of an anxious person is often too shallow, the chest is blocked, the inspirations too rapid", observes Jean-Marie Defossez. To promote more efficient and deep breathing, she suggests standing about 80 centimeters in front of the tree trunk and reaching out to rest the palms of your hands on it. On the exhale, gently push the shaft down, with your arms still extended. Mechanically, the plexus descends and opens, as the trees spread their branches. "Near the tree we inhale volatile substances beneficial to the respiratory system," adds the naturopath.