Forest bathing is translated from the Japanese concept of Shinrin-yoku (森林浴), which means bathing in the forest atmosphere or taking in the forest through our senses. It is the intentional practice of connecting with nature and surrounding yourself with the energy of the natural world. The key is to live fully in the moment while bathing your senses in nature.
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, take a few deep breaths and centre yourself. Focus on what your senses are taking in and spend a few moments simply observing your surroundings. You could sit and watch how the trees sway in the wind or you could walk around. If you decide to walk, go at a leisurely pace and without a specific destination in mind. It’s important to let your mind and senses wander, explore, and indulge.
It’s long been recognized that humans have a biological need to connect with nature. Though any kind of nature can enhance our health and happiness, there’s something special about being in a forest.
The sounds of the forest, the scent of the trees, the sunlight playing through the leaves, the fresh, clean air — these things give us a sense of comfort. Being in nature can restore our mood, give us back our energy and vitality, refresh and rejuvenate us.
There are more extensive health benefits of forest bathing as well. Studies prove that two hours of mindful exploration could reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels and improve concentration and memory.
These benefits are derived from the essential oils given off by trees and plants into the forest atmosphere. These oils are called phytoncides, which have an anti-microbial effect on human bodies, boosting the immune system.
Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world; and this has shown real, quantifiable, physical and mental health benefits.