Forest Bathing

Deep well-being for body and mind can be achieved together. When you work out your body, your mind is right there with it. Yoga is one example. Combining physical postures with the breath brings consciousness into one place. And it can feel amazing. In addition to yoga, there are practices from all over the world that use the body to achieve a deeper spiritual well-being. Some of these, like yoga, are familiar. Some may appear totally outlandish. But there is a range, and different ones may fit each of us better. So, to see what the options are, we are going to explore physical-based wellness practices from every corner of the world. This week, we’re going Japanese forest bathing.

In Japan, there is a practice called shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. It is not literally bathing—your clothes stay on. It’s bathing in the energy of the forest, opening your senses to it. Shinrin-yoku wants to close the gap between you and the world of the forest. It is not about physical exertion. Don’t race through the forest. Shinrin-yoku asks us to slow down and recognize how good for our senses the forest is. The light coming through the leaves. The clean smell of the trees. The soft mossy forest floor. The sounds of birds calling. All of this is there to bathe you in its calm and rejuvenating energy.

How to forest bathe is simple. First, pick a spot. Find a place that you feel comfortable in and connected to. Forest bathing is not meant to be a challenge. Then, leaving all of our electronics behind, let your senses lead you. There are no maps and no expectations. Move slowly, noticing the richness around you. Let your attention linger on trees, stones, trails, leaves. Let yourself be taken in by whatever you notice. If you feel yourself start to rush, merely stop walking, breathe, and look around you again. Shinrin-yoku is more to notice a lot than to travel far. Then, once you’re done, quietly offer gratitude to the forest. And bring some of that forest calm back into the rest of your life.