What is Nature Bathing?

by Dana Moore

The term “nature bathing” is more than just a graceful way of describing a “walk in the woods”. Nature bathing is inspired by the Japanese custom of “forest bathing” also known as shinrin-yoku, which literally means “taking in the forest atmosphere”. Forest bathing was first introduced in 1982 by Japan’s Forest Agency to promote healthy living and to reduce stress.

The premise is very simple and goes something like this: Quietly walk and explore nature with your senses keenly open to every sound, scent, color and texture. No intensity or physical exertion is required; just meander slowly and mindfully, breathe deeply, and stop and experience whatever catches your spirit — whether breathing in the fragrance of a wildflower, or really feeling the texture of that birch bark. Delightful? Pleasurable? Yes. And researchers may have identified why.

Since the 1970s, the rate of urban dwelling in the U.S. has continued to rise while, at the same time, nature-based recreation has significantly declined. This is especially concerning as researchers have discovered that even a 5 minute walk among trees or in green spaces can improve health by reducing stress, improving mood and energy levels, and decreasing blood pressure and heart rate. Intuitively, none of this really comes as much of a surprise. What is really exciting is that personal experience and scientific research are in agreement that immersing ourselves in a serene, natural environment is healthy for our body, mind and spirit.

Standing tall on a forest trail,
grounded and rising

I enter the company of Trees.

One breath we share,
a gift given and received.

They live their life,
while I live mine.

One Life,
one Breath.

They nod to me,
and I to them.

They have secrets to tell,
I listen.

Dana Moore