The term shinrin-yoku originated in Japan and translates as Forest Bathing or taking in the forest’s atmosphere or energy. Forest Bathing became popular as a natural way to stop tech burnout when the technology boom began in the early 1980s and to help individuals to re-connect and hopefully help preserve the forests in their communities.
The Japanese quickly adapted this form of ecotherapy and soon researchers began to study the positive psychological benefits of being in nature. Of course, Japan is credited with the term shinrin-yoku, but many cultures have benefited for centuries from the healing power of nature.
Forest Bathing does not mean walking in a park and talking on your phone or wandering around the woods with a friend and discussing work. This is not the time to jog, take pictures, or practice a speech. It is not intended to be a time of doing laps or forcing the dog to have timed exercise.
Forest Bathing is the act of walking in any natural environment and connecting to the surroundings using your senses. Look at the trees, weeds, flowers and leaves. What do you smell, what do you hear, what does bark, or grass feel like in your hands? Can you taste anything, is there fruit or berries or even herbs that are edible? This is a way to bridge the gap between yourself and nature. Follow your body and walk aimlessly and allow yourself to wander. Two hours every day is ideal for the full benefits of Forest Bathing, but any amount of time is helpful and doing even a ten minute walk every day is excellent for inducing a peaceful rest and clearing your head.
Meditation in nature is ideal for allowing yourself to ascend to a higher consciousness. If you meditate (and I hope you do, allow yourself time to “just be”) you will find you feel more relaxed in nature and your senses might even be heightened after your meditation is completed.
Forest Bathing can be experienced in most natural settings, but I personally love areas which have fragrant evergreen trees as they release a high concentration of phytoncides, a natural essential oil that boosts the immune system. Remember to take deep long breaths of the aromatic magic. Evergreens, Pines and Spruce Tree needles are high in vitamin C and antioxidants and can be steeped into a cold or hot tea for extra benefits. When forging for needles on your Forest Bathing excursion, make sure to only forge from areas which are not sprayed and clean all needles before using in tea.
I also love the many sounds of meadows which may have running streams or babbling brooks. I enjoy dipping my toes into the water and feeling the sensation over my body, is it cold, warm or slimy? I listen to the birds and lie on the ground to become grounded which produces antioxidant effects in the body while absorbing powerfully healing Vitamin D rays from the sun.
Forest Bathing is ideal for everyone trying to reduce anxiety and stress, but what if you cannot get into nature? There are some alternatives which you can consider if getting outside is impossible.
Gardening indoors is perfect for the home dweller. Plant a few pots or window boxes and tend to your plants without any other distractions. Notice how they are growing or struggling and allow your senses to be one with them each day when you care for them. Try meditating next to your plants for extra benefits and bring as much greenery into your space as possible to enjoy the beneficial air quality due to the oxygen and co2 plants produce.
Take a sound bath, much like immersing yourself into the forest, a sound bath allows you to immerse yourself into the sounds of the forest. You can listen to podcasts or purchase recordings of the forest and meadow and allow yourself to sit and listen each day.
Use essential oils in a diffuser or spray natural hydrosols on your bed sheets, clothing and pillows. Amazing Earth creates Organic Chamomile, Peppermint, Lavender, Lemon Balm, and Rose Hydrosols which are aromatic and have therapeutic benefits not only for the mind but also for skin issues and are excellent for anxious children. Discover these Organic Hydrosols at:
Forest Bathing is enjoyable, free and therapeutic. When we are one with nature, we have our mind, body and soul in balance which can lead to perfect health.