If you haven’t yet heard of forest bathing, here’s a quick rundown. The whole point of forest bathing, which comes from the Japanese term, “shinrin-yoku,” which literally translates to “forest bath,” is to slow down. You’re meant to enter nature and simply experience it with each of your senses—to bathe your senses in nature.
Forest bathing emerged in Japan in the 1980s, but the ideas that inspired the basics of forest bathing, come from things that artists and writers, spiritual teachers, and health professionals have discussed throughout history. We are connected to nature, and returning to natural environments—even for short periods of time—helps us get out of the anxiety of our minds and into the wisdom of our bodies.
In our over-stimulating and overwhelming world—with screens, noise, and busy work cultures—forest bathing is the exact opposite. This time is meant for you to focus on, and reconnect to your breath, nature, and the present moment.
While you can also join a guided forest bathing session, here are some tips to try forest bathing on your own.
Don’t Make a Plan
When you think of entering the woods where trails are already carved out, you probably think of your favorite hiking trail or running loop. When you’re forest bathing, however, you’re not meant to move that far through the woods. Instead of planning on following a specific trail that you already know, expect only to spend time in nature. Once you’re out in the middle of your forest bathing practice, the only thing you should follow is whatever your body feels like doing. If you want to sit, you can sit. If you want to take a few steps forward to investigate a new area along the trail, you can do so. As long as you go slowly, and you try to observe everything you’re seeing, hearing, touching, and feeling, you’re forest bathing.
Additionally, it’s best if you don’t bring your phone with you, or if you do, to completely turn your phone off to help you resist the temptation to check it throughout your forest bathing practice. If you’re in a place that’s unfamiliar to you, you can complete your forest bathing by just wandering and exploring wherever feels right, and then if you get lost you can turn your phone back on once you’ve finished your session to find your way back to the trailheads.
Deep Breaths and Deep Observation
As Henry David Thoreau said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…” The goal of forest bathing is to deliberately focus on each moment—each step and each breath you take, each tree you pass, each leaf, each animal, and each insect you com across. This intense focus on the environment around you can bring you a great sense of calm by pulling your mind away from your worries and to-do lists.
While you may feel a bit silly when you first start, imagine the way a child would step into that environment; they would count the points on the leaves they found, stick their hands in a creek or river, and even leave the trail to investigate fallen tree trunks and moss on rocks. To that childlike curiosity, forest bathing brings the wisdom of slowness—to deliberately give your curiosity more time to expand and ask questions about what you’re observing.
Focus On An Intention
If you’re having trouble focusing on your environment, or you want to bring something new into your practice, you can decide to focus your practice on an intention. For example, you could focus on gratitude while you’re forest bathing. You could find the things you love about the environment you’re in—like the light through the trees, the sound of the ground beneath your shoes—and focus on feelings of gratitude that arise because you get to see, hear and feel these things.
Stay as Long as You Can
The more you practice forest bathing, the more comfortable you’ll get with lengthier sessions. And the longer you’re out there though, the more you’ll notice benefits from your practice. By the end of your forest bath, you’re likely to feel calm, joyful, and more present and rested.
Ready to take a walk in nature? Book your escape here.