Take back your inner Zen with ‘Forest Bathing’

Directly translating a name from Japanese to English can be a disaster, but in the case of ‘forest bathing’ for once the translation is quite fitting. Back in the early 1990’s the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries coined the term Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) to describe the stress-reduction technique that is now taking the Western world by storm.

Don’t pack your swimming costume for this one, ‘forest bathing’ has nothing to do with taking a dip. The practice involves immersing yourself, or ‘bathing’ yourself, in a natural environment. Focusing on your senses: noticing the smells and sounds around you, feeling the textures and taking in the beautiful view. In short, this health trend is about losing yourself in nature.

It has been shown to boost immunity, reduce stress, lower blood pressure and cortisol and improve your mood.

forest bathingThis is not about active hiking, instead it should feel like a walking meditation retreat. When she tried it, Allison Aubery from NPR Radio was lead by, certified Forest Therapy guide, Melanie Choukas-Bradley. Allison describes her experience:

“As we passed through a stand of pawpaw trees, we touched the bark. We smelled the black walnuts, which give off a lovely citrus fragrance. We got a little shower of ripe mulberries, too. I closed my eyes and it took me a few minutes to clear out the clutter in my brain, and tune in to the natural world.