Forest bathing

We all know intuitively that going outside is good for us, and a growing foundation of science and neuroscience underlies the health benefits of being outdoors. In the 1980s, the secretary of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries coined the term shinrin-yoku for making contact with and being affected—both physically and mentally—by the atmosphere of the forest. Shinrin-yoku translates in the West as “forest bathing” and is part of what I call the green cure: connecting with the natural world to help us thrive physically, cognitively, emotionally, and even spiritually.

You need only the most basic equipment: Leave your camera, your journal, and your guidebooks behind, and turn off your mobile devices. Forest bathing is about being, not analyzing.

Find some trees….Find somewhere to sit or lean, where you can be still for 10-20 minutes or more without being in the way of bicycle traffic, ants, or poison ivy.

Now do just that — be still.  Be aware of your breath, but don’t force it. Let the experience come to you, don’t analyze. See what you see, hear what you hear, smell what you smell, feel what you feel. Light through the leaves…skittering or birdsong…blossom or decay…calm or grounded…

Alice Peck, Let Nature Heal You, in Mindful

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