In Japan, Shinrin means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere or taking in the forest through our senses. I can’t think of any more idyllic way to improve one’s wellbeing then bathing in the forest.
Walking in the woods at our hunting property is the most uplifting feeling I experience. That’s why I started turkey hunting — so I had more “reasons” to get out to the woods.
When the Japanese participate in Shinrin-yoku, they do not exercise or hike or jog. They are “simply being in nature, connecting with it through their senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between them and the natural world.” (Time)
Here’s How It Works
Find a wooded spot. Leave your phone and camera behind. Then begin walking aimlessly and slowly. Let your feet be your guide. Then let your senses take over:
- Listen – to the songs of the birds, the rustle of the leaves, the chuck of the squirrels
- Smell – the sweet, musky, moist, cool fragrances of the forest
- Taste – the fresh air, the plants, the seeds of the forest
- See – the surfaces, the colors, the dimensions, the depth of the forest
- Touch – the bark of the tree trunks, the leaves, the stones, the sedges, the mosses of the forest — feel the sunlight coming through the tree canopy
Let your feet take you where the forest wants you to go. Relax, don’t hurry. Savor all the forest has to offer. Let nature in to release that sense of joy and calm. Then you will have bridged the gap between your senses and the natural world.
How fortunate we are that through our love of native plants and natural landscaping, we can do this every day of our lives. Although the Japanese refer to this practice as forest bathing, one might also do the same in their prairie plantings. We might then call that prairie bathing. Regardless where you attempt to bath with your senses, may you always come away connected with nature.
If you want to read more about forest bathing, here’s a book on the subject Forest Bathing by Dr Qing Li