Forest bathing is a research-based framework for supporting healing and wellbeing through immersion in forests and other natural environments. It is often practiced in an urban park.
Forest bathing is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku, which translates to “immersing your senses in the forest” or “Forest Bathing.” It is also sometimes called “Forest therapy”.
It was invented in 1980’s to fight the stress and burnout epidemic Japanese city dwellers were suffering from.
Its benefits proved so effective that Shinrin yoku has been for more than 30 years a standard healthcare prescription in Japan.
Since the early 2010’s, Shrinrin yoku has been adapted to Western culture as forest bathing, and we have recent evidence that it is the best practice to tap into Nature’s therapeutic benefits. (see recent WSJ article).
With stress and burnout considered by WHO as the greatest health epidemic of the 21st century, Natural Leadership has adapted forest bathing to the needs and context of business leaders and their teams, so that it can become the green antidote we all need.
We build on those benefits and look beyond, to what happens when people remember that we are a part of Nature, not separate from it, and are related to all other beings in fundamental ways.
Natural Leadership’s Forest Bathing walks are an experience structured in 3 steps:
- Create conditions for Nature connection
- Immerse 5 core senses with “active ingredients” to create wellbeing benefits
- Integrate benefits for return into day to day life
A Forest bath is a *guided walk and a unique multisensorial experience for our senses (sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste) in Nature that runs for about 1.5-3 hours, leaving some time to travel to the site.
Although we are inspired by the Japanese practice our use of the terms Forest bathing and
Shinrin Yoku does not mean a specifically Japanese practice. We mean spending time in Nature in a way that invites healing interactions. There is a long tradition of this in cultures throughout the world. It’s not just about healing people; it includes healing for the forest (or river, or desert, or whatever environment you are in).
We move slowly, pause often and don’t go far, so a minimal level of fitness is not necessary.
We meet up and head down the trail together. The Guide leads a sequence of games called invitations, for solo exploration or sometimes in pairs. These invitations support you in quieting your mind and awakening to the gifts of Nature. The invitations often prompt you to tune in to a particular sense — sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, and even your “imaginal sense”.
The guide periodically calls everyone back together and offers people the opportunity to share stories or insights from their explorations. There’s no pressure to speak when we gather together.
We end the walk with snacks and tea, made from plants from the trail we’ve just walked, and a chance to share any final reflections.
*Forest bathing walks can be guided in person or remotely.
See a summary of forest bathing walks here.