These days, we stay indoors for hours scrolling through social media, binge-watching TV shows, or playing video games. We shop online and have purchases delivered straight to our homes. We live in or commute to cities surrounded by concrete, steel, and smog. Our days are mostly spent away from sunshine, trees, water, and fresh air.
While our modern way of life can be convenient, it’s taking us away from the health benefits of nature. To the point where getting outside should now be a priority. This is where the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku — or forest bathing — can help.
What is forest bathing?
In 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries created the term shinrin-yoku, which translates to “forest bathing” or “absorbing the forest atmosphere.” The practice encourages people to simply spend time in nature — no actual bathing required. It’s also very low impact, which means you don’t have to go for trail runs or do an intense hike. The goal of forest bathing is to live in the present moment while immersing your senses in the sights and sounds of a natural setting.
Forest Therapy, also known as
refers to the practice of spending time in forested areas for the purpose of enhancing health, wellness, and happiness. The practice follows the general principle that it is beneficial to spend time bathing in the atmosphere of the forest. The Japanese words translate into English as “Forest Bathing.”
How do might you do it?
Enter the forest with an intent to have a direct, uninterrupted, immersive engagement.
Cross the threshold into the forest and acknowledge the ceremonial honor of entering the home of gracious beings.
Take time to become aware of yourself, your body, and what your senses are perceiving
Begin to take notice of each impression you have as it occurs
Move slowly through the forest as you observe everything else that is moving around you
Explore aspects of the forest that enable you to have an intimate appreciation for what you find by connecting with your senses
Sit and discover what has been revealed to you
close your visit with a ceremony before crossing the threshold as you depart
“The problem with our busy city lives, however, is that the stressful events keep piling up. There will be emails to answer, co-workers demanding attention, a deadline looming, the shopping to get done, the bills to be paid. And our cortisol levels remain always slightly raised.
When cortisol is released constantly, it can disrupt all our body’s processes. And people who produce chronically high levels of cortisol are at increased risk of numerous health problems.”
Dr. Qing Li
Forest Bathing, pgs. 66-67