What is Forest Bathing?
Let’s go for a walk in the woods. No real destination in mind. No agenda. No plans. Just mindfulness practice, in the heart of nature. Let’s give forest bathing a chance.
What is forest bathing?
Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese practice known in English as forest bathing or forest therapy. Broadly, it refers to the experience of allowing one’s sense to be fully immersed in the forest’s atmosphere.
Developed in the 1980s, forest bathing is a form of mobile mediation from which one can reap many health benefits. It’s more than a simple walk in the woods. It’s a conscious practice that involves all the senses. Under the canopy of living trees, surrounded by the sounds of nature, the smell of the forest, the feel of the leaves and the beauty of sunshine streaming through them.
Forest bathing was Japan’s direct response to modernity. A way to escape a routine filled with technology and take a moment to reconnect with nature.
Akin to meditation, Shinrin-yoku can be both a personal and shared experience. It isn’t about following a defined path. It’s about interacting with the forest in a healing and meaningful manner.
What are the benefits of forest bathing?
Science and personal experience have proven time and time again that time spent in nature recharges our batteries. You may ask yourself, however: are there any other benefits to forest bathing?
Shinrin-yoku, quite unsurprisingly, promotes wellness. Time spent in nature is soothing for mind, body, and soul. It decreases anxiety, reduces blood pressure, strengthens the immune system, increases energy and the ability to focus. Even inhaling the oils released in the air by trees can decrease cortisol levels and boost your immune system.
Forest therapy sparks creativity beautifully. When you truly pay attention to the nature that surrounds you, you notice things you usually wouldn’t. Allow yourself to experience awe, excitement, joy and wonder. Sometimes, inspiration was there all along, simply overlooked.
How do you forest “bathe”?
- Find the perfect spot. Somewhere where you can wander and wonder in equal measures.
- Leave all your devices behind. You don’t need any distractions.
- If you choose to share your forest bathing experience, resist the urge of talking. There will be plenty of time to share your experience later.
- Walk aimlessly and slowly. Let your senses guide you. Take your time.
- From time to time, find a comfortable place to sit down and bask in the forest atmosphere.
- The essence of forest bathing is found in the five senses. Listen to the sounds of nature. Breathe in deeply the essence of pine or lily of the valley. Place your palm on the trunk of a tree. Watch the light show of sunlight shining through the canopy. Taste the rain in the air. Dip your toes in a stream. Whatever helps you feel as grounded as the trees that surround you.
Where should I try forest bathing?
Anywhere—as long as there are trees! Whether it’s hot or cold; rain or shine, or even snow; a local park, a spa hidden away, or a faraway forest. All you need is to feel grounded—rooted—one with nature.
Experience the best in wellness in the heart of nature. Elsewhere is here.
Still curious? Read Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness by Dr. Qing Li.