Forest Bathing (Shinrin-yoku)
Japanese (n): A visit to the forest for relaxation and to improve one's health.
Have you ever tried forest bathing, traditionally known as shinrin-yoku? This Japanese art involves connecting with nature, engaging your senses and taking in everything that is around you. This is a perfect way to practice mindfulness in your local park or garden!
Developed by Japan in the 1980s, shinrin-yoku was so effective that it has now been implemented as a national health programme. It has been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, improve memory and concentration, and some findings show it can help us maintain our health.
This practice can either be done alone or with other people, just make sure you spread out so you don't interrupt one another. To get the most out of this technique, we would highly recommend leaving electronic devices out of reach so you can properly switch off and feel closer to nature.
How to get started:
- Find a calm space in your garden or local park
- Walk slowly around the area, making a large circle. Stop every 5 steps to take a deep breath. What can you see, touch or smell?
- Find a spot to plant your feet. Pretend to grow into a tree, feeling the breeze between your fingers.
- Collect 2 different leaves. Look at their shapes. If it’s sunny, how are their shadows different? If it’s rainy, try and collect water droplets on the leaves as they fall from the sky.
- Go to a tree or bush. Feel the bark. Is it squishy or hard, smooth or rough? Can you reach all the way around the trunk or branch?
- Find a comfortable spot on the ground to sit. Listen carefully to the sounds of nature with your eyes closed.
- Open your eyes, take a second to be thankful for nature and all that it provides.
We would recommend spending at least 15 minutes doing this to feel its benefits, but this activity can be done for as long as you like!