Shinrin-yoku is the name given to the Japanese art of ‘Forest Bathing’, though it doesn’t involve a bath or water. It’s about taking quiet, contemplative walks through the forest to help you connect with nature. Unlike a hike or a climb, it is undertaken at a slow pace and is less strenuous.
Since 1982 Forest Bathing has been acknowledged by the Japanese government as a means of improving people’s quality of life.
Much like meditation, it is said to:
- decrease stress levels
- elevate mood
- boost the immune system
- and much more.
Not bad for a simple stroll in the park!
Who and how long?
Forest Bathing can be done by anyone, in small groups or solo.
One to one and a half hours is recommended, but even a shorter walk will do you good.
The basic how-to’s
Select a place of natural beauty for your walk. It should be somewhere that you can stroll easily – no steep inclines or rock climbing. I know it’s called Forest Bathing, but if you don’t have a forest nearby any quiet place in nature is fine. I happen to live in the Dandenong Ranges so I’m a bit spoilt for choice.
If you go with others, make an agreement to resist talking until the end of the walk. When done, feel free to share your experiences.
Leave your phone, camera, music device and any other distractors behind. Forest Bathing is just about you and nature.
Have no expectations. Wander aimlessly, allowing your body to take you wherever it wants to go. There’s no need to rush, take your time and use all your senses to explore the environment.
Pause now and then to take in your surroundings. Look closely at a leaf or an insect; feel the sensation of the path beneath your feet; look up to see the clouds through the canopy; feel the wind on your face; breathe in the clean fresh air; touch the bark of a tree.
Find a spot to sit and relax. Watch the leaves fall and grass sway. Listen to the sounds around you. The forest has a music of its own. Notice how the behaviour of birds and other animals change when they become used to your presence.
And that’s all you need to know to get started. Forest Bathing is simple – so simple absolutely anyone can do it.
We all live busy lives. Slowing down and getting in touch with nature helps to relieve built-up stresses and has proven calming and rejuvenating benefits.
If you need to unwind, why not try Forest Bathing? It’s free and so easy to do!