You may have heard of the increasingly popular art of Shinrin-Yoku, or forest bathing. Advertised as a way to relax and connect with nature, it is proven to boost your sense of well-being.
But what, exactly, does it involve? And do you really need to go to Japan to do it?
In this introduction to forest bathing, we'll give you everything you need to know to get started. We'll begin with a definition of the practice, then explore where you can forest bathe (both locally and abroad).
Then, we'll turn to the four major things you need to do if you want to start forest bathing. We'll close by considering how you can link your new understanding of forest bathing to your attempts to manifest through the Law of Attraction.
First, then: what’s forest bathing? In brief, it refers to “bathing” in the peaceful, leafy atmosphere of a forest. You don't need to hike or run – you simply take in how it feels to be there.
The concept originated in Japan, with the goal of immersing people in nature. And studies show that even just a short couple of hours of forest bathing can bring you into a mindful state where you relax and engage with the present.
Your body produces less of the stress hormone cortisol, your blood pressure drops and your heart rate lowers. So, how do you arrange to enjoy this wonderful pursuit for yourself?
In Japan, where Shinrin-Yoku began, there are over 40 individual forests that have received accreditation for forest bathing.
Reconnecting with nature is becoming a key part of self-care in Japan, so if you look into forest bathing you're most likely to see recommendations to travel there.
However, if you can't get to Japan any time soon, the good news is that you can enjoy forest bathing much closer to home.
Research about the health benefits of forest bathing is catching more and more attention, and so you can expect to see places near you begin to advertise themselves as suitable in the near future.
However, you don't need to wait for forest bathing to be officially established where you live – you can simply find a good location for yourself.
While the practice itself isn't about exercise, almost anywhere that you might take nature walks is also suitable for Shinrin-Yoku.
Think about where you have felt peaceful, and fully connecting to the world around you – this is a perfect place to start.
Now that you know the basics of forest bathing, hopefully, you can see that it is a kind of natural meditation that can improve not only mental health but physical well-being as well.
If you're ready to try the practice yourself, there are four things you need to do in the forest to get the most out of Shinrin-Yoku.
We'll lead you through each in turn, explaining to get the most out of all of them as we go. Then, we'll think about how you can use what you've learned in order to get what you want elsewhere in life.
The first step of forest bathing is preparatory – a kind of “technology cleanse” that will get you into the right mindset for Shinrin-Yoku.
Before you go forest bathing, aim to spend at least a few hours away from your phone, tablet, or computer. Digital detox benefits are numerous, even if you're not going to be practicing Shinrin-Yoku.
We often get stuck comparing ourselves to unrealistic projections we see online, for example, and stepping away allows us to focus more on what we want for ourselves.
It's also very easy to get stuck on social media and news sites, simply scrolling through different pieces of content without ever really being aware of how much time we're losing. Once you've enjoyed the benefits of a technology cleanse to prepare for Shinrin-Yoku, you might find yourself wanting to do it more often.
Crucially, you may be surprised by just how much your self-awareness heightens when you disconnect from the online world.
You'll become more in tune with your thoughts, feelings, and even fleeting physical sensations. This type of mindful state ensures you get the very best from forest bathing.
And, of course, you should carry this digital detox into the forest as well.
You may be tempted to take a camera or your phone to capture beautiful images, but this puts a wall up between yourself and nature so try to resist the urge.
In short, anything that is a distraction should be left at home, short of the things you need for your safety.
Secondly, once you're on your way to practice forest bathing, try to let go of any sense of purpose.
We spend much of our days obsessing about our to-do lists, setting specific goals, and feeling under pressure to be productive.
Wandering aimlessly through life isn't something most of us aspire to do. And, as with our online behavior discussed above, we can become so caught up in the things we need to do that we stop really paying attention to the wonderful details of our lives.
However, In forest bathing, your goal is the opposite of what it may be in regular life.
Specifically, you should feel totally free to go with your impulses and move without expectations.
Think of the forest bathing session as a kind of aimless wandering session where you simply follow your body wherever it wishes to take you.
While forest bathing initially involves movement, it typically culminates in a period of stillness.
Again, trust your gut feeling, choose a spot where you can see and hear the forest in all its glory.
It doesn't need to be your favorite place in the world – it just needs to be comfortable, relaxing, and feel right at that moment.
However, it's also acceptable to stop and start during forest bathing.
For example, you might walk for half an hour and then rest for 10-minute periods before resuming your journey.
It's important to avoid being rigid during forest bathing.
As long as you're communing with nature, feeling good, and focusing on the present, you can't go wrong.
Finally, appreciate your surroundings as much as you can during forest bathing.
When we pay attention, most of us love nature. And the forest in particular is teeming with life, perfect for a mindfulness exercise that anchors you in the beauty of the present moment.
Try to take in as much detail as possible, using all of your senses.
What colors can you see? How many shades of green can you find in the forest?
Can you see any birds or other animals, and how are they behaving? Are they reacting to your presence? What do you hear, both near and far away?
What can you smell, and how does the earth feel beneath you? This is a meditative, deeply pleasurable experience that is at the heart of forest bathing and all the benefits it provides.
You now know how to clear your mind, connect with nature and slow your body down by forest bathing. This wonderful process can bring you a sense of wellness and a clear mindset, no matter how chaotic everything else may feel.
And forest bathing also has other applications – specifically, it puts you into exactly the right mental space for using the Law of Attraction.
You heighten your vibration, awaken your creativity, and take yourself into a purely positive place. For this reason, forest bathing is an amazing secret weapon in manifestation work.
Why not do your usual Law of Attraction exercises in the forest, next time? Creative visualization, dream boarding, and saying affirmations all take on a special kind of power and resonance when you're in nature.