Downtime will mean different things to different people. Even the definition has a different twist when going over the pond to our American friends. In the UK, the definition is: ‘Time during which a machine, especially a computer, is out of action or unavailable for use’. The North American definition, however, has more of a human touch. The one that most of us would associate with the meaning: ‘Time when one is not working or active.’
We are in a world where we go 100 mph, 18 hours a day and still cannot fit everything in. So it really is essential to learn to switch off and have some downtime. Lots of people enjoy being active for their downtime and of course Snowdonia has so much to offer in this respect. But there are a other areas that are picking up momentum which offer more of a, dare I say it, spiritual downtime. We are in a time where the issue of mental health is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Doctors are now prescribing being in nature as a treatment for depression. It’s time we all start to take these things that little bit more seriously…
In Japan this is a cornerstone of Japanese medicine. Called Shinrin Yoku (a literal translation: Shinrin means forest and Yoku means bath). It is the practise of taking in the forest through our senses. The idea is as simple as you would think and it’s something you can do on your own. Leave your phone and camera behind. Walk into the woods taking in the birds singing, the rustling of the leaves, the colours and touch of the trees and the beams of sunlight coming down. The smell of the soil, and the feel of the water and the taste of fresh air.
A two hour forest bath alone will work towards reducing blood pressure and stress, improve your mood, increase your ability to focus, increase your energy and improve your sleep. Did you know that trees naturally emit organic compounds that support our immune system? So what are you waiting for, get yourself out in those Snowdonia woods and forests and bathe until your heart’s content.
I was introduced to this a couple of years ago and was a little hesitant about what it would ‘do’ for me. But after an hour and half of going into a meditative state where I really felt different notes affect different parts of my body, I then found myself crying my eyes out as I left. It had clearly ‘unblocked’ something in me and as a result am a great believer in this! There are lots of classes in and around Snowdonia run by the lovely Steph Healy of Pure Sound . Sound bathing is relaxation meditation through gongs. Each gong is a different note and resonates with a different part of your body. Over the course of an hour and half session, you are taken through a guided meditation followed by the sound of gongs being played. This is said to have huge healing benefits by helping unblock negative energy channels. Steph predominantly runs classes inside, but through the summer months, she does do some retreats outside in the wonderful Snowdonia lakes and mountains.
This is no newbie obviously. But what you might not be aware of unless you live in the area is that there are classes held on the beach and my favourite of all, Portmeirion Village. It doesn’t get much better than that – a whole day of yoga in the magical, mystical village of Portmeirion. The classes are run by Tracey Yoga. She also has a facebook page where she will alert you of any days coming up. But if you can’t find them, email her from the website as she runs them roughly 6 times a year.