The term “forest bathing” comes from the Japanese word shinrin-yoku: literally translated as forest bath. But this isn’t a bath in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, it’s more of a metaphorical bath; think of it as forest therapy.
In a world full of technology and stress, we need disconnection now more than ever. It’s in the moments of peace and reflection that we find prosperity and health, both mental and physical.
But what is forest bathing exactly?
The best way to describe it is as a slow, meditative walk in the woods. But it’s not the same as a hike, nor is it a form of exercise. In fact, there’s no end goal at all– it’s simply meant to be a purposeful stroll focused on awareness. Ultimately, the intent of forest bathing is to observe your surroundings using all of your senses. You could be walking as slow as half a kilometer an hour, mindfully internalizing as may details as you can.
As humans, we’re intrinsically wild. Our instincts, our souls, and our bodies all belong in nature. It sets us free. It restores us, reducing anxiety and stress. Connecting with the wild encourages a positive flow of energy throughout our bodies and lives, boosting our mood and increasing our energy levels. It puts things into perspective for us, moving us beyond our ego and into a more robust state of mind. So, it should come as no surprise that simply immersing yourself in nature is actually considered a form of medicine. Trees even release organic compounds that encourage immune system function, as well as negatively charged ions and helpful bacteria that are all linked to preventative health care.
Nature also ignites our creativity. It puts us in a state of relaxation and peace from which we can generate new ideas. When we slow down, we see things differently, notice more, think deeper, and allow ourselves the space for contemplation and creation. Peace is key to creativity.
So, next time you’re in the woods, slow down. Put your phone away. Try honing in on something as simple as the sounds you can hear. Or the motion you can see; the textures you can touch; the things you can smell. Notice how much you observe, how present you feel, and how rejuvenated you’ll become.
Ultimately, it’s important to remind ourselves of where we came from. We need nature like we need food and water; wilderness isn’t an option, it’s essential.