Forest bathing: nature and mindfulness

Forest bathing: nature and mindfulness

The latest activity for guests at Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine is an immersion in nature with all five senses under the guidance of Marta Bernardo, a teacher of various yoga disciplines and mindfulness consultant.

There are different ways of walking. With this evocative name (forest baths is the translation of the Japanese term Shinrin-Yoku), we present a fully conscious and revealing route through the beautiful landscapes of the Abadía Retuerta estate.

“During the walk, we let ourselves be absorbed by everything around us to feel that we are part of the forest,” says Marta Bernardo, who is delighted with this experience that seeks full attention on the part of all participants. As such, she considers it a pure mindfulness exercise because it encourages the essence of being present and acceptance of reality as it is. According to her, there is another positive element: “It helps us to remember that 99.9% of our existence is spent living in nature. Cities have uprooted us, especially the younger generation —as a matter of fact, there is a disorder known as nature deficit.”

The feeling of letting the forest in can be liberating and may help to escape both the stress of these difficult pandemic times and the pressures of work. Marta herself knows this situation very well. After training as an economist, she held positions of responsibility in different companies for 12 years (she describes herself back then as a «hyper-stressed working mother») until she had to stop. «I started doing yoga and eventually ended up reassessing my life; I trained as a yoga and mindfulness instructor as well as in other disciplines. Since then, I have been constantly learning new techniques. There are many opportunities to help nowadays,» she points out.

Through the pine forest to the vegetable garden

The forest bath available at Abadía Retuerta is a relatively short, guided walk through a pine forest close to the hotel. It runs between the river and the canal and ends next to the vegetable garden.

The pace is very slow, seeking to walk in a mindful way, fully enjoying the route. «When we walk slowly, we are able to stop and look at an anthill, caterpillars, be surprised…,» explains Marta.

In addition to being conscious of every step taken, the aim is to involve all the senses. Smell, for example, is especially active in the pine forest, while hearing becomes more active near the river as you listen to the sound of the water and the greater presence of birds in this area. Mindful eating is also practiced —the tour ends with a cup of herbal tea, some nuts and, depending on the season, something to eat from the monks’ vegetable garden.

«The way we eat is a metaphor for how we live our lives: do we appreciate what we place in our mouths, do we savour the food or do we just gobble it down?,» asks Marta Bernardo.

Her personal discovery when she was planning the forest bathing experience was the care and attention that Abadía Retuerta takes to preserve the landscape, flora and fauna, with its birdhouses and the ponds that collect rainwater for the animals to drink.

Time cannot be stopped yet, but we can treat ourselves to a moment of happiness in the midst of nature. Click here for further information about forest baths at Abadía Retuerta.