Nature, Timeless Inspiration
Aristotle traveled to the wooded hills of Ancient Greece to teach his followers. Nietzsche composed in Nature; he needed to walk in Nature to really think. Some years later, the famous transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau would write in Life in the Woods, “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” There have been hundreds of painters, inspired by, and masters at capturing Nature’s magic. By the mid-1980s, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries created the term shinrin-yoku, which translates to “forest bathing.” With more time and many more words, Forest Bathing, a book dedicated to the health hobby of just taking in the forest, reminds us that just being in Nature, connecting with our senses, can restore our energy and vitality, refresh and rejuvenate us.
Nature travel is rated number one for those planning a wellness-themed adventure in 2021 on a recent survey conducted by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI). The institute defines Wellness Tourism as “travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s well-being.” Costa Rica’s Institute of tourism promotes travel to Costa Rica as an opportunity to connect with the essence of life: Nature, well-being, culture, and adventure. Essentially, nature travel reduces stress, improves mood & vitality, re-ignites awe, and is a healthy hobby for all ages.
Birding is a Healthy Hobby
Birdwatchers have managed to combine the soothing restoration of Nature and waiting for birds. To be good at this hobby, birders stroll through the forest, often at dawn, using sight and sound to guide them. Although birding may be more intentional than the practice of forest bathing – which does not involve seeking birds – we know now there is something to be said for just being in the forest.
Patrick O’Donnell, Hotel Villa San Ignacio’s birding guide, understands first hand, birding is a healthy hobby all ages can enjoy. He has guided hundreds of eager birders traveling to Costa Rica for a nature adventure. Far from the stereotypes of being an odd hobby solely practiced by nerdy people decked out in khaki, birding is a hobby for people from all walks of life. “It’s always been that way, with many folks taking up birding upon retirement, others getting into it after taking a birding or ornithology class in college, and even kids becoming interested all on their own.” Patrick also notes that kids are much quicker to spot birds than their adult co-birders. As soon as they latch onto the cool things that birds can do and get that they are better at finding birds than their parents, they are enthusiastic birders.
Stressed out? Diffuse that agitated noise in your mind while in the forest. Look, listen, and breathe forest-freshness to rekindle awe. Focus on Nature, the sounds and movements of its birds. We try out birding for all sorts of reasons. But, what grows on new birders is the bliss and satisfaction of a stress-reducing healthy hobby. An exception is the occasional obsessive, competitive birders, creating stress while birding by setting outrageous goals to record how many birds they can find in 24 hours. This behavior misses the point. Strolling in the forest and watching birds is one of the more easy-going, Nature travel adventures one can do.