Forest bathing is a process that combines mindfulness meditation with nature. It is an easy process to connect us with nature and unlock its healing properties.
Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere.” It’s now the cornerstone of preventative health in Japan. Pine forests are particularly beneficial. Pine, spruce, and fir trees produce terpenes, which gives them their unique, distinctive scent. They help us breathe better.
The Perfect Forest Bathing Guide
The Japanese didn’t invent this process, but they have researched it extensively to find out about it. They discovered trees in mature forests emit unique healing compounds known as “phytoncides.”
We know these organic compounds boost our immune system. So spending time in diverse woods allows us access to these natural immune system enhancers. The essence of the process is spending time strolling in the woods. Today many people around the world learn and use this technique.
Even if you are not near a pine forest, researchers find many other types of trees also emit similar phytoncides. Mixed woodlands with deciduous trees and bushes are places many people find peaceful.
No matter where you practice this technique, the effects last long after the exercise. It’s an effective way to connect with the healing power of nature. We forget we are part of nature. So, we should all be nature lovers. This research is spreading this technique as therapy throughout the world.
As we mentioned, the ideal place is a forest untouched by man’s hand. But, you can practice it anywhere, even indoors.
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir
The Forest Bathing Process
We should all be nature lovers because we are part of nature. You can use this process anywhere, even if you are indoors. Most people live in cities made of asphalt, steel, and concrete. As a result, our modern life isolates us from our connection with nature. So, we can learn the process, then take it outdoors when we can. Simple as that. It’s a simple two-step process.
1) Learn both the seated and moving forms of mindfulness meditation. These are simple but effective ways to reduce stress. They help to calm the internal dialogue and give us the ability to focus outward. You can use this process anywhere, anytime.
2) Use the mindfulness meditation techniques, either walking or sitting in nature. So, you can learn the mindfulness technique first. Then take it outdoors when you have the opportunity. The practice of waking mindfulness has benefits even when done indoors. It’s as simple as that. It is nothing more than mindfulness meditation done in nature.
If you can’t go outside, project your awareness using the Shamanic Journey’s creative visualization technique.
Why do we need to learn this technique? We have become more susceptible to illness and disease. For that reason, it’s become a way to boot our immune systems. This helps and regains this vital connection to nature, which is important for our health and wellbeing.
Benefits of Forest Bathing
Research shows that periods as short as 10 minutes have a lasting positive effect throughout the day. So, even if you don’t a lot of time, try to get outdoors for a few minutes. Here is a list of the benefits.
- Immune system enhancement.
- Lowers blood pressure and cortisol levels.
- Reduced levels of stress.
- Clarify thinking and reasoning.
- Increase in creativity.
- Increases empathy for others and nature.
- Peace of mind.
- Time to contemplate.
- Solitude helps us connect with our intuition.
“My religion is nature. That’s what arouses those feelings of wonder and mysticism and gratitude in me.” ― Oliver Sacks
Forest Bathing Guide Tips
Research Scientists in Japan and South Korea spent considerable time finding the best place to practice. They found how to gain optimal results from the time spent. As a result, the best technique contains two key elements—the proper state of mind and the optimal environment.
First, it is helpful to find a mature forest. If this isn’t possible, you can use a natural space or garden. Look for mature trees. Mature trees are more likely to have more phytoncides. Then you need to spend the proper amount of time. Ten minutes or more is the goal. Strolling around where there are various trees enables us to gain exposure to the most phytoncides.
Running through the forest doesn’t work. It doesn’t give you enough time to absorb the essential elements. Also, researchers found that being “calm” and peaceful helps with our ability to absorb these elements. One of the most important tips is to slow down.
Take your time. You need to spend enough time in one place for you to absorb the compounds. These observations provide guidelines on the best practices to get the best results. This is where the second part of the process comes in.
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.” ― Lord Byron
Remember, Mindfulness Meditation is at the core of this technique. Research shows that combining these two processes gives us the maximum benefit. Mindfulness enables us to focus our attention outward. It makes us aware of our bodies and our surroundings.
Being mindful helps us to find the right place to practice. Listen to your intuition. If you find you are drawn to a specific place, pay attention. Look, listen, and feel your surroundings. If you feel inclined to sit and meditate, then do so. You might be inclined to stand barefoot.
“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth, becomes part of his daily food. In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows…” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and Walking
This process is a form of walking contemplation with an awareness of our surroundings and our body. So,< keep this separate from other activities. This is one of the forest bathing tips that will ensure you get the most from this practice. Don’t bring your children or walk your dog. These are distractions. It’s not a time for conversation. Don’t use this for aerobic exercise. So, refrain from checking your steps on your smartwatch or step tracker.
Remember, if a natural forest isn’t available, then Mindfulness Meditation alone has its own health benefits. The best results come from practicing moving mindfulness, where there are several mature tree varieties. This is the ideal situation.
This forest bathing guide process combines meditation and nature. It’s is one of the most enjoyable kinds of spiritual exploration. Another variation of this technique is the Tree Grounding exercise. Of course, you can do mindfulness meditation anywhere. Many people find these are their favorite ways to learn how to ground and center. They are easy to learn, and; they are easy to practice. You feel the positive effects immediately. This is an excellent introduction to the arena of spiritual technologies.
Whenever possible, we hold our fact-to-face learning sessions in or near a forest, nature center, or park with trees. All forms of meditation work especially well outdoors. The mindfulness meditation technique is at the heart of this process. It allows us to get the most out of our time in nature. Many people find the two processes inseparable. Try it yourself and see.
This process isn’t new; people have been walking in the wilderness for eons. Many of the stories about Sages and Avatars talk about spending time in the wilderness. In fact, there are many stories of Sages finding enlightenment sitting under a tree. Mystics and scientists alike agree that walking in the forest is good for your health. Walking barefoot on the earth is also beneficial. Barefoot walking is perhaps better on clay or sandy soil. The wilderness or forest has more obstacles. So be careful where you step.
“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” — Kahlil Gibran
We hope this forest bathing guide will give you the tools you need to try this process. It’s an excellent way to use the basic moving mindfulness technique. Using this process in nature adds another element with health benefits. This process will help you rediscover the wonder of our environment. You may even become one of the nature lovers, along with millions of others.
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(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia