Before you jump to conclusions, it’s not what you think. The practice of “Forest Bathing” originates from Japan. Shinrin-yoku as the Japanese call it, means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses. Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” Hence Shinrin-yoku.
This has nothing to do with skinny-dipping. It is simply being in nature and allowing ourselves to be one with nature. It is not about jogging, hiking, or camping in the forest either, but embracing nature through our senses of sight, taste, smell, touch and hearing. Shinrin-yoku is the pathway between us and the natural world. Studies show that by the year 2050 most of the world’s population will be living in cities. This means less and less contact with the natural environment. A small amount of time in nature can have a positive impact on one’s mental and physical health. “Forest Bathing” for a couple of hours allows us to take some time away from our busy schedules, unplug from technology and be in the moment. It also allows us to slow down and relax.
How do you “Forest Bathe”?
First, make sure that you leave your phone and other technological devices in your vehicle. Find a spot. Walk slowly and aimlessly. Walk as if your body was guiding you. Let your senses lead you. Take your time and embrace your surroundings. It doesn’t matter if you find yourself at the exact same spot. There’s no quest or actual destination. It’s all about savouring the sights, smells, and sounds of nature as well as taking in the forest.
“Forest Bathing” is about unlocking your five senses and embracing nature through your feet, hands, mouth, nose, eyes and ears. Listen to the sounds of nature from the tree leaves blowing in the wind to the birds chirping. Marvel at your surroundings and the wonderful sight that nature has to offer. Take a deep breath and inhale the different aromas. Take delight in tasting the fresh air. Touch the trees around you. Feel the caress of the soil on your feet. Lay on the ground. Indulge in your sense of joy, pleasure and serenity. Once you have reached this state of mind, you have achieved your sixth sense, and have completed your pathway to happiness.
Being calm and relaxed is subjective, it differs from person to person. It is imperative that the place is suitable for you. Your preferences will determine the positive effects of being in the forest. Sceneries that bring back nostalgic memories from childhood could enhance your connection with the environment. If you are uncomfortable with being alone in the forest, you might want to take a few friends along and inform them what you are trying to achieve. There are various activities that can help you relax and to connect with nature such as walking in the forest, eating in the forest, yoga, meditation and plant observation. Shinrin-yoku is suitable for everyone.
You can basically “Forest-bathe” wherever there are trees regardless of the season. You don’t even need an actual forest. It can be a nearby park or in your garden. Being in nature is highly beneficial and its effects can be felt immediately. “Forest bathing” is easy, cost-effective and requires minimal time and effort. So “Forest-bathe” away.