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Forest Bathing – Quest For Health and Happiness

Forest Bathing Book Cover - the spine is the trunk

I’m still really into forest bathing, probably because I haven’t had a chance to go hiking yet. And I do have a thing about book covers – this one is amazing! I’ve been even more aware of book cover designs since I saw this TED Talk. But, did I really need to read a second book on forest bathing, you ask? Yes!

There are some overlaps between Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness, by Dr. Qing Li, and Shinrin Yoku: The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing, by Yoshifumi Miyazaki, of course. But I also found some additional tips on how to make the most of your DIY forest bathing!

Find A Spot

“Let your body be your guide. Listen to where it wants to take you. Follow your nose. And take your time. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get anywhere. You are not going anywhere.”

It doesn’t have to be a forest. Not everyone has time or even the inclination to get that deep into nature. It could just be a nearby park (preferably one big enough where you can’t see traffic every way you turn). And choose a place you like – there’s no point in suffering, especially when the goal is to decrease stress and increase health.

Engage Your Five Senses

Sound: There’s a difference between silent silence and natural silence. Natural sounds, like moving water, blowing wind, singing birds, help calm us. Close your eyes and listen in all directions. What do you hear?

Forest Bathing, Dr. Qing Li

Sight: Komorebi is the Japanese term for the sunlight filtering through the leaves and branches of a tree (so pretty!). Look at patterns in nature. The different greens of a tree. The wildflowers growing along the path. Clouds in the sky peeking through. Grass.

Smell: What does the forest smell like? Notice the combination of flowers, earth, rain, trees. You can find essential oils to recreate that smell at home.

Get a diffuser (a reed diffuser would be more natural – also easy to DIY), or burn candles and/or incense. Alternatively, you can place a bowl of cedarwood shavings on a table.

Touch: Go barefoot in the grass, be grounded in nature. Graze your fingers across leaves or tree trunks. Dip your fingers or toes in a stream. Lie down in the grass. Toss a rock. Or try ikebana (flower arranging) – it’s a meditative practice that merges the outdoors and indoors, where each element is placed intentionally.

Taste: Breathe in and taste the freshness of the air. Bring a picnic to enjoy in the forest, or have a tea ceremony. If you know what you’re doing, or have someone who knows what they’re doing, you can try to forage for food (I don’t think I’ll ever be that comfortable with nature).

Thoughts

As with the book on Scandinavian child rearing, the key to preserving nature is to maintain a connection with it. While that book emphasizes instilling that value in children, it’s never too late for us to form and nurture a connection to nature. We want to protect things we feel belong to us. Humans have taken over the planet, so we should take some responsibility, yes?

I love the book cover, it’s got a lovely texture, and the pages smell different than other books (might just be in my head). This too has beautiful pictures that inspire you to go outside. The entire book is an experience, one I didn’t get from the last book because it was an ebook.

What do you think? Are you excited about forest bathing yet?

 

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