By Alexa Radulski
Have you ever heard of the term “forest bathing”?
Contrary to its name, forest bathing requires no nudity or water! Forest bathing is a form of ecotherapy, but it is not reserved only for the nature lover. Forest bathing originated in Japan and is known as shinrin-yoku, the Japanese practice of relaxation in nature. Forest bathing is a very simple way to practice mindfulness and meditation, and is a good place to start if you have never given more formal meditation a try. Forest bathing is becoming popular in many places around the world.
How to practice forest bathing.
The first step is to go outside. Find yourself a natural spot that is away from man-made distractions. You can go on an official hike, or you can simply sit under your favorite tree. Once there, breathe in, breathe out. Pay attention to all of the senses of your surroundings. What does your environment smell like? Are the flowers in bloom? Maybe you can smell fresh pine or oak. Can you feel the ground below you? Is it squishy from the rain? Be aware of every sensation possible. Forest bathing can be as simple as you would like it to be. This mindfulness exercise is meant to be taken at a leisurely pace. It can be as basic as going for a walk or even just sitting in any natural environment such as a trail or a park. What is important is that you make a conscious effort to connect with what’s around you. This practice is meant for you to find moments of clarity, peace, and a calmer state of mind than when you started.
Benefits of forest bathing.
This practice is accessible to everyone and is one of the most cost-effective ways to unwind. It is easy to feel stressed or overwhelmed in our daily lives and we often forget how peaceful the outdoors can be. In today’s fast-paced world, most of us find ourselves spending too much time indoors. Forest bathing requires us to ditch our electronic devices, forget about our to do checklists for a mere twenty minutes. Spending just twenty minutes in nature can aid in the reduction of stress by increasing happy hormones and lowering blood pressure.
Grab a friend or venture out on your own and give forest bathing a go. NPC is holding a forest bathing event at Worlds End State Park on Sunday, July 23, 2023 (LT Pavillion). You can also find official forest bathing events and guides in your area, or do a quick search online and just dive in. You won’t be sorry.