Go Back to Nature: Forest Bathing
It is clear that our bodies still recognize nature as our home... - Yoshifumi Miyazaki
We’re all about a walk in the woods to help hold space for big feelings, especially when we need a life or perspective.
Although the term forest bathing is a relatively new term, coined in 1982 by Tomohide Akiyama, this practice is an ancient Japanese practice called Shinrin-Yoku— the simple and therapeutic act of spending time in a forest.
WHAT IT IS, AND IS NOT
Although, a good forest bathing location can include water, it usually does not include swimming. The concept of “bathing” comes from the idea that the air in the forest is like an ocean where one completely immerses themselves.
Another misconception about forest bathing is that you are going on a hike through the wilderness, which also is not the case. The pace of forest bathing is much, much slower and much more relaxed. No hiking, running, or mountain-climbing necessary. You can even sit if you want to. Take a moment to appreciate your surroundings and listen to the sounds around you: twittering birds, rustling bush, trickling streams. Breathe in clean, fragrant air and soak in the sights of the textured ground and the shapes of the leaves in the sky. Touch the soft, green moss carpeting the shaded stones, or the rough bark on the trees. Let the stillness around you influence your state of mind and make you forget the constant motion of the city. This is a sensory experience.
Although there is much to learn in the forest, scientific facts about nature is not the point, in fact just the opposite is true. During Shinrin-Yoku, you immerse your senses in the special characteristics of the forest. The forest will invite you to receive sounds, sights and energies. Speaking of energies, being with and a part of nature has many health benefits.
Studies have shown forest bathing helps with digestion, improves sleep quality, stabilizes mood, increases energy, reduces inflammation, lowers blood pressure, and boosts your immunity + ability to focus. It also quells chronic stress— which can contribute to the development of ailments like anxiety, depression, and insomnia, to name a few.
Reciprocity is one of the most important aspects to understand about forest bathing. It’s not about “taking” from the forest for our healing; it’s about starting a relationship and a connection to all living things through continual inquiry. These inquires are referred to as invitations in Shinrin-Yoku. Download our FREE 4-Element primer on how to be in reciprocity during Shinrin-Yoku, here.
Learn more about this ancient practice, via Walking in the Woods: The Japanese Way of Shinrin-Yoku by Professor Yoshifumi Miyazaki