In a post-pandemic world, change is underway. 2020 has forced us to stay grounded and look inwards, taking care of not only our bodies but also our mental health. Many have turned to meditation and wellness programmes to be more mindful in a world full of negativity. The time has come where we can explore the world once again, with lessons learnt in the past two years, let’s make this trip a wellness therapy to heal our hearts and relax.
Being in nature has magical effects, we have all experienced it at some point in our lives. The sound, scent of the trees, the sunlight that shines between the gaps of the restless leaves, these all give us an unfathomable sense of comfort. The art of forest-bathing, or what the Japanese call “Shinrin-yoku” means bathing in the forest atmosphere, and taking in the forest with all our senses. Forest-bathing can ease our stress and worries, help us relax and think more clearly. Being in nature can help restore our energy and rejuvenate us.
Forest-bathing can happen in all shapes and forms, it doesn’t have to be active, you can simply be in nature and connect with it through your sense of touch, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Numerous studies have shown that forest-bathing has many health benefits, simply head to your nearest forest for a tester. Want to take a step further? Why not visit one of the world’s happiest places in pursuit of peace?
Bhutan is nestled in between China and India, this small country is well-known for being the happiest in the world and also the only carbon-neutral country. It has also had one of the lowest numbers of COVID-19 cases in the world, with most of its citizens vaccinated. A place full of natural wonders, ranging from forest to glaciers, the Himalayan mountains to deep valleys, Bhutan is more than ready to welcome back tourists from all around the world. Indulge and take in every gasp of fresh air in this country of zen, reach down to your inner self to find calm amongst the trees with us:
Go tree bathing
It’s real, you can bathe amongst the roots of trees and breathe in pure fresh air that almost cleanses your soul right here in Bhutan. Descend into the valleys of Bhutan head to its countryside, winding through trails and villages. Away from the distractions of modern technology, inhale and close your eyes to feel one with nature. The world is never silent in nature, the rustling of the leaves, birds chirping in the distance, the breeze that feels like a warm caress under the sunlight… Go deeper into the woods to cleanse your body and spirit, meditate in any form, be it seated, walking, or even while humming. You can be among these beautiful trees either at the Gangtey Village Stupa or at the entrance of the Gangtey Valley Nature Trail Walk. Feel rejuvenated and at ease after your walk, treading lighter, and ready to explore other parts of Bhutan.
Some people choose to meditate in other forms, you can join a Forest and Prayer Flag Bathing or create your own mandala. The mandala is a symbol representing the search for completeness and self-unity, by drawing the mandala in sand, you can transmit positive energies from the environment and focus on the present feelings in your meditative state. The sand is a solemn reminder that nothing is set in stone, and that even the most intricate and well-planned designs will one day return to dust. Connecting with your inner self can be simple, practise mindfulness with guidance to make the most of your trip.
If you’re more active and meditation really isn’t your forte, why not join a mushroom foraging expedition in the forest? Search for all sorts of different mushrooms, gently sniff the fragrance of fresh mushrooms and hunt for them amongst the trees. You can even choose to join a culinary class to cook these mushrooms right after you’ve picked them. True stem to table! Common mushrooms found here are species quite similar to the infamous matsutake mushrooms in Japan and Yunnan. Mushrooms make up a large part of the rural economy, and the foragers can go deep in the woods for days on end to search for the best mushrooms. Try out Bhutanese cuisine, usually slightly hot but mostly vegetable-based.
While some people love nature, for some the routes might be too laborious. Head to Thimphu Market to get in touch with Bhutan’s lovely produce and culinary culture. Visit the beautiful open-air market to see farmers sell their produce and hawkers sell their goods. You’ll be in touch with a range of different fruits such as mangoes, apples, sugar cane and, of course, their staple chilli peppers. The initiative aims to better the lives of the rural community in Bhutan, and these maze-like pavilions are a great joy to wander in. Immerse yourself in the local culture for a journey with your senses. Grab incense, fresh produce, fermented goods and all kinds of spices, pick out your favourite local arts and crafts too. Let the hustle and bustle of the market sweep you off your feet and into a world of Bhutanese culture.
Whether you’re more of a tree-hugger, or just a fruit-lover, find serendipity in Bhutan no matter what floats your boat. Live life differently, experience happiness in the happiest countries on earth, simple joys that will make not only great memories, but also life lessons in being meditative and reflective. While in general getting into Bhutan can get a little tricky, we’ve figured out a way to make things hassle-free for you. Let Intriq Journey tailor your trip to Bhutan to fit your needs, be it forests or florets!