Evidence shows that forest bathing decreases the stress hormone cortisol, provides benefits to the central nervous system, and contributes to relaxation.
What is forest bathing?
Shinrin-yoku, popularly known as forest bathing, is a contemporary mindfulness practice originating in Japan. Though forms of ecotherapy have existed for centuries, Shinrin Yoku has grown in popularity due to its accessibility and research-based impact.
Nature is a teacher and Shinrin-yoku opens us to its lessons. Forest bathing brings the practitioner into greater self-awareness, increased interconnectivity with our ecological setting, and a sense of peace in our experience. By disconnecting from the businesses of our industrialized life, we can reconnect with our source of being.
Shinrin-yoku can be as simple as taking a slow walk through the forest. If you are beginning the practice for the first time, here a couple of pointers:
- Connect Intentionally – Disconnect from your phone, reconnect with nature.
- Move Slowly – Paying attention to your walking, using this time to leave behind the rush of daily life.
- Breath Fully – There is a reason breathing is important to so many mindful practices! As you walk, come into awareness of your breath. If you feel your mind wandering, this can be a great way of reengaging the experience.
- Notice Curiously – The forest is full of oddities, surprises, and lessons. Using all of your senses, notice the world around you. What do you smell, see, feel?
- Reflect Openly – After your walk it is helpful to reflect on your experience. Simply asking, “what did I see?” can meaningfully reengage your experience. Many forest bathers keep a journal, but this can be as casual as you wish.
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Forest bathing opportunities are regularly offered in conjunction with the Reynolda House Museum of Art. Click here for more information.
Looking to schedule a personal consultation or guided forest bathing experience? The Office of the Chaplain can help curate an experience that speaks to your needs.