In Minnesota, this is the time of year that many of us embrace nature. We've been couped up inside all winter, the trees have been bare, and we haven't seen the sun very much. But all of that is all changing. The flowers and trees are budding, we start to clean up our yards, and we open up our windows for some fresh air. It is
Some of us may have practiced forest bathing without even knowing it was a "thing"! It's not a complicated practice by any means, but when done with intention, it can be so much more. Forest bathing has been intentionally practiced in Japan since the 1980s.
Dr. Qing Li, a Time Magazine journalist captures the essence in her book, "Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and
Happiness" Quoted in her words: "In Japan, we practice something called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku. Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses."
As explained by Dr. Li, this is not a hike, jog, or any type of exercise. This is a chance to completely connect with nature. Here are
some points on how to have a successful forest bathing experience:
- Find a forest, park, or garden
- Do not bring with your phone or any electronics whatsoever
- Connect with nature by using all of your senses
- Listen closely to all the sounds that are created by your natural surroundings.
- Smell the fresh air and take it all in; the trees, flowers, leaves, and even the dirt.
- Look at all the beauty that engulfs your view and focus on the intricacies and details you normally wouldn't take the time to
- Touch the plants and trees. Wrap your arms around a tree to see if you can reach all the way around it.
- Taste nature (if you
know it's safe), by touching a leaf or piece of bark to your tongue. You may get lucky and find a berry patch. Again, only eat them if you know it's safe.
The most difficult part is finding time for a forest bath. But you won't realize the benefits without trying it. It's just like finding time to work out, preparing home cooked meals, or spending time on any of your hobbies. If you make the time, you'll find your way to a successful
session of forest bathing, ultimately bringing calmness, connection, health, and happiness.