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Introduction to Forest Bathing

An Introduction to

Forest Bathing

Forest bathing, or “Shinrin-yoku” as it's called in Japan where the practice was founded, is a way of immersing your senses in nature that has proven benefits for our physical and mental well being. Time in nature can boost our immune systems and creativity, settle our minds, and lower our stress levels. But how do you forest bathe? While an actual bath in the forest is not required, here’s an introduction to get started improving your connection with nature and your health.

photo by Canopy Dynamics

What is Forest Bathing?

Everyone can forest bathe to enjoy nature’s healing benefits. Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, Sempervirens Fund’s Wellness Advisor and author of The Outdoor Adventurer’s Guide to Forest Bathing, says, “Forest bathing is all about getting in nature, slowing down, taking it in through the senses. It’s not a hike for physical fitness, it's not a nature identification walk, it really is just for the purpose of being in nature.” And if getting into nature isn’t an option, virtual forest bathing can still offer health benefits.

Virtual Forest Bathing

Enjoy a virtual forest bathing experience led by Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller for the ultimate break in your day. Thank you to AllTrails for supporting the production of this film. You can also watch the full Introduction to Forest Bathing webinar, which includes a discussion with Dr. Hackenmiller

What Are Invitations and Why Are They Important?

In forest bathing, or nature therapy as it is sometimes called, invitations help us to notice nature more deeply. “Invitations are prompts we can give ourselves to invite an inward response to the nature we are experiencing,” Dr. Hackenmiller explains. Here are some invitations Dr. Hackenmiller recommends trying during your forest bath:

Pleasures of Presence

Forest bathing often begins with a series of invitations called the “Pleasures of Presence.” These invitations can help you connect with and feel present in any outdoor space through mind and body contemplations for your forest bathing experience.

See This Place

Finally, imagine that you have just arrived in this place. When you open your eyes or raise your gaze, take in the sights and sounds before you as if for the very first time.

photo by Mike Kahn

Invitations by Sense

These invitations can help you deepen your forest bathing experience and increase your health benefits by exploring your outdoor space through different senses. Consider picking and choosing ones that make the most sense for your experience and the space where you are forest bathing.

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A person sitting on the ground near a redwood log smiles while writing in a notebook, by Orenda Randuch

After your forest bath, “you might spend some time jotting down or journaling what you noticed during this experience,” Dr. Hackenmiller suggests.

If you’re ready to try forest bathing, our free Trails Rx tool can help you find the trail that’s right for your health goals with invitations tailored by Dr. Hackenmiller to help you notice nature along your forest bathing experience.

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