A Brief Guide to Japanese Forest Bathing
For those who have never heard the term forest bathing, let me start with a brief explanation.
In 1982, Japanese scientists found that with the percentage of time spent indoors being as high as it was, people weren’t getting the vitamin D they needed, which led to high stress and depression. That’s when they coined the term Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing). This practice has been confirmed by studies over the past 3 decades that show it is highly effective in restoring peace of mind and health.
The act of forest bathing is simple enough, as well. It is just what you would guess – bathing in the richness and life of the forest by absorbing its sounds, smells, and sights.
Positive effects can be measured after just a few hours but most recommend longer stretches of time to truly see the rejuvenating effects it is capable of. Several days up to a full week spent in the forest is incredibly clarifying for the mind and body.
There are some key strategies to making the most of your forest bathing experience:
- Do not bring electronics into the forest. If you must keep track of time, put a watch in your pocket or bag and check it as infrequently as you can.
- Consider the benefits of forest bathing with a small group, a partner, or in solitude. All options can have positive results as a group or partner can lend a different kind of energy to your experience or give you some direction for your meditative attention. However, it can also cause its own kind of stress, so be aware of this and do what’s right for you.
- Don’t just depend on sight-seeing. While the forest beauty can be inspirational, many have found that engaging other senses allows for the benefits to be felt on deeper levels. For example, don’t just admire the mossy rocks and leaves strewn on the ground; lay on the leaves, feel the moss, smell the dirt.
While Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese healing art that brings nature into your health routine, it can be done in any number of natural locations. However, to experience it as it was intended, Japan has devoted trails to this practice, so experiencing it at its source is not just a possibility but recommended.
Shinrin Yoku is a Japanese term that means “Forest Bathing.” It is a health-enhancing practice that is introduced in this brief video, courtesy of Shinrin-yoku.org.
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