My first task is to walk as slowly as I can into the forest, picking up something that catches my eye. A beautiful leaf, a cone, a piece of bark, it doesn't matter.
Shortly thereafter the cuckoo call is heard. Not in real life, although the cuckoo can be seen in the northern Black Forest from time to time. For Frauke Grotz's forest bathing class participants, it's the signal to pause for a moment.
Forest bathing in the Black Forest
Mostly you can see already at the first meters, how many people are under power in everyday life, so fast they march off. Forest bathing, however, is about slowing down and consciously perceiving one's surroundings with all one's senses.
Frauke wants to know what I associate with the forest. Come down, enjoy the silence, take a deep breath in the fresh air – the forest is good for you, everyone agrees on that. Except it used to be called a forest walk.
Shinrin-Yoku is what the Japanese call it. Or simply forest bathing, the latest wellness trend in Germany. "Translated, it means something like 'bathing in the forest air'. But no one really gets wet, because you don't go into a lake or a stream, but immerse yourself completely in the wonderful nature of the forest," Frauke explains.
On the next stage it is called: be amazed. Sounds easier than thought. At some point you forget to walk through the world like a child and see the little wonders along the way. The perfectly grown toadstool or the mushrooms that stick to the tree stump like a work of art.
Have I ever wondered why nettles have a different color on the top of their leaves than on the bottom?? Just how many shades of green there are, I find amazing. The purest rest for eyes that stare at any screen for hours every day.
Forest bathing also means being amazed
Our group has quickly found its pace, everyone strolls through the forest with their thoughts to themselves. As if in slow motion, without a goal, just one with this moment. Enjoying the sunbeam, which makes its way through the leaves, plowing with the feet through the leaves, which rustle so beautifully.
Cuckoo whistles. Time for a few QiGong exercises, a combination of Chinese breathing techniques and meditation. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. And then slowly on. The distance covered in the three hours of forest bathing is not important, maybe two or three kilometers. Boredom comes up nevertheless at no time. On the contrary, time passes quickly.
You just have to get into it. In a particularly beautiful clearing, everyone gets 30 minutes to themselves. Sometimes someone asks: 'What am I going to do for so long, there's not even cell phone reception here??Frauke also has tips for this, such as sitting on a trunk or lying on the ground and letting the forest take effect on you. Nobody has to hug a tree, but if you want to, you can of course do that too.
Suddenly I see and hear things that I have not perceived before.
Leaning against a tree, after a while I actually feel that my pulse becomes calmer and the sounds around me more intense. It smells spicy. My gaze follows a leaf that dances silently to the ground. I hear only the wind in the treetops, bird voices mingle with it, which I have not perceived before.
Here and there a crackling. A spider throws threads from branch to branch and begins artfully to weave a web. The half hour passes surprisingly quickly until the cuckoo calls again for departure.
So that the forest bathing experience lasts as long as possible, everyone gets a small bag in which they can take their finds home with them – a colorful mixture of leaves, acorns, moss and cones.
Forest bathing can be done all year round, each season has its own charm. As the forest changes, so does the mood each time.
Forest bathing is possible at any time of the year
Every "hike" includes a rest and for this Frauke has not only brought crispy apple chips, but also prepared a story about a tree that feels it is in the wrong place. Everything is a question of perspective, with this realization our forest bathing round slowly comes to an end.
The next time I visit the forest, I will remember this and I will certainly stop and listen more than just once.
Selection of forest bathing offers in Baden-Wurttemberg:
Northern Black Forest: 3-hour tour in Warmbronn with Frauke Grotz, course leader for forest bathing and mindfulness in the forest, Tel. 07224-68535 or 0151-2153683, e-mail: [email protected]
Excursions in Bad Wildbad with Reno von Buckenberg, Certified Nature Guide and Forest Therapist, Dates: every first Wednesday and Sunday of the month from April to November, Tel. 07081-9527530, schwarzwalddeluxe.de/forest bathing
Hochschwarzwald: 7 km circular hiking trail "Waldersinn" in Grafenhausen-Rothaus with experience stations for all senses.