Try Forest Bathing

Slope along the Kumano Kodo in Nachi, Wakayama, Japan.

A dear friend suggested recently that I try Forest Bathing.  (Thanks, Lora!)  At that point I hadn’t heard anything about it, but loving trees and forests, and recognizing that I don’t actually take the time I’d like to be in the incredible forests that are a stone’s throw from where I live, her suggestion resonated: try Forest Bathing.  

As I began to explore the topic, at first there was so much information that I was a bit put off… OMG, all the names, all the benefits, it all seemed a bit over the top.  Then I happened to watch an in-depth, heart-wrenching, yet also inspiring documentary about trees: Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees by the renowned Canadian botanist, Diana Beresford-Kroeger, about trees’ life cycles, the magic and miracles about them, their vital roles on our planet and in our lives, how they are endangered, what their many gifts are, what we can do today to put the forests back.  It’s not “rocket science”.  Have a look and start planting!  

In the film there was a section about urban Asians taking the time and making it a priority to try forest bathing — actually go into the forest and steep themselves.  

Well, I decided to do it: try forest bathing.  I walked out, not for exercise, as I usually do; not in a hurry, as I usually am; not Try Forest Bathingfocussed on what else I wanted to do that day, as I often am… but just to steep, to immerse myself in the sight, the smell, the feel, the touch, the energy and spirit of the trees.  

It’s evergreens that offer the most gifts in this particular context, their essential oils, the effect on our well-being, our mood…  Would you believe that 2 hours of forest bathing has been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower stress, improve cardio and metabolic health, lower blood-sugar levels, improve concentration and memory, lift depression, improve pain thresholds, improve energy, increase anti-cancer protein production, help you to lose weight. 🙂  This from a citation from Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness  by Dr. Qing Li, and reviewed by the Berkeley Center foe Greater Good. There is real science to back it up.   

Try Forest BathingEven half an hour is exquisite.  Breathing in the essential oils of the Incense Sequoia, or the Redwood not far from where I live, I relaxed deeply, was more alive, more grateful, more present.  Even a regular fir tree will do. I take just a little twig, twist it between my fingers, and inhale the fragrance, and it’s a potent gift.  A natural lift.  

I highly recommend that you try forest bathing, when and when and however you can!  I’d love to hear about your experience.

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook 

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