Relax in the forest and immerse yourself in the pleasant atmosphere of the woods. You can smell the spicy air, see the soft light filtered through the leaves, feel the soft soil under your feet.
The tradition of forest bathing comes from Japan and is called shinrin-yoku there. Forest bathing describes the meditative experience and the health effects of a stay in the forest. Japanese scientists have studied changes in the immune system caused by forest bathing. They published the study results here: „Forest Bathing Enhances Human Natural Killer Activity and Expression of Anti-Cancer Proteins” (International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology 20, 3–8).
While people communicate mainly via speech, facial expression, and gestures, plants express themselves via the air with chemical messengers’ help. People absorb these substances when they breathe. This breathing can activate the immune system and strengthen the body’s defenses. One feels more energy and is more balanced.
Not every stay in the forest is automatically forest bathing. When you do forest bathing, the focus is on relaxation and getting involved with the plant forces.
Four tips for successful forest bathing
- Allow sufficient time
The full power of the forest bathing unfolds only after some time. Therefore plan at least 45 minutes. You can also extend it to several hours. Four hours are ideal. The longer you are in nature, the greater the benefit. It is perfect to plan such breaks regularly, e.g., at the weekend or every day during your holidays. During forest bathing, it is essential to enjoy nature consciously. Therefore, strenuous walks or bicycle tours are not ideal, as they can temporarily increase the stress level.
- The right preparation
Forest Bathing is an individual experience that you should carry out on your own. Only this way, you can entirely focus on nature.
It would be best to switch your smartphone off or set it to silent while you are in the forest.
Find out about the path you are taking in the forest. A marked circular route is ideal, so you can’t get lost and don’t have to concentrate on navigation. Take some water with you and if you want to spend more time in the forest, also a small snack. Make sure you wear suitable clothing for the weather and sun protection if necessary.
- Concentrate on your breath
By breathing, you can influence your physical condition. When you are in the forest, breathe slowly and deeply. Concentrate on your nostrils or belly and feel the breath flowing in and out. Your pulse calms down, and you too become calmer. You will also benefit from the clean air of the forest, produced by the plants’ photosynthesis. The clean air is good for the body and the soul.
- Combine forest bathing with meditation or meditative reading
You can combine forest bathing with meditation. The best way to do this is by walking and repeating a mantra such as OM or Om Shanti. You can also count your breaths inwardly.
If you wish, you can also take an uplifting book with you and sit on a bench and read. It is essential that your thoughts calm down, and you focus your attention on one thing.
Design the forest bathing as it feels right for you. You do not have to meditate or read. Take as many breaks as you consider as necessary. Walk at the speed you are most comfortable with.