Need a break from the fast-paced world we live in? Or perhaps get away to quiet your mind and return feeling re-energized and renewed? Try Forest Bathing, but please, leave your towel at home. No bath is required.
Developed in Japan by Tomohide Akiyama in 1982, Forest Bathing or Shinrin-yoku is a term that means ‘taking in the forest atmosphere.’ It’s simply being in nature with no destination in mind and allowing yourself to just be.
With Americans spending over “93% of their time indoors,” and over 11 hours online every day, we’re in desperate need of quality outdoor time.
How Does It Work?
To achieve forest bathing to its fullest, set aside two to four hours. But if all you have is twenty minutes, allow yourself that total amount of time.
You don’t have to have a forest nearby, a park will do.
First, put the phone away or anything that will cause distractions. The focus is for you to be present.
Go for a walk or find a private spot. If you’re walking, don’t worry about your final destination. Go slowly and wander.
During this time, observe your surroundings and your breath. What do you hear? What do you smell?
See an interesting leaf? Pause and look at it.
Close your eyes. Listen to the rustling of the leaves. The sound of the birds. Try to leave the everyday stress behind.
Once your time has come to a close, reflect on how your body feels. Your mind. Let the feeling linger.
Dr. Qing Li, a researcher from Japan, is an expert on Forest Bathing. He believes trees promote health and happiness and has made it his mission to spread awareness about Japan’s age-old practice.
According to Dr. Qing Li, he believes Forest Bathing can:
- Reduce stress
- Improve sleep
- Improve mood
- Increase energy level
- Boost the immune system and more
Living in a world where screen time is at an all-time high, it’s no wonder Forest Bathing has become such a trend. In fact, there are retreats and classes dedicated to the practice. You can even become an official guide.
In the end, it sounds like nature’s calling. Perhaps we should listen and visit it more often.
From the words of John Muir, naturalist, author, and environmentalist, “The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.”
In other words, have you had your bath yet today?