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Into the Woods: 5 Questions and the Surprising Answers About Forest Bathing

by | Nov 29, 2023 | Insights

Forest Bathing can feel like the Wild West – both thrilling and confusing. Whether you’ve stumbled upon Forest Bathing or Shinrin Yoku (thanks to, believe it or not, Virgin River on Netflix) before, or if this is your first encounter, let’s tackle some of the questions I hear frequently. Here are five key insights I’ve learned on what Forest Bathing is and isn’t.

  1. Is Forest Bathing an Ancient Practice? Not really it turns out. Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-Yoku, actually emerged in the 1980s in Japan as a response to urbanization and its toll on health. With 2/3 of Japan covered in forests and a deep cultural connection to nature, the government, facing a health crisis, turned to the vast forested areas. A task force identified various health benefits, leading to the Shinrin-Yoku campaign promoting wellness by immersing people in the forest atmosphere – or “bathing.” Today, Japan boasts over 62 Shinrin-Yoku “Bases,” offering relief to stressed urbanites. The practice has spread globally in the last decade, with Forest Bathing Guides leading sessions in diverse settings, from wild pristine forests to parks & nature preserves to inner city “micro healing forests” – former parking lots turned havens for tranquility.

  2. Isn’t Forest Bathing just a walk in the woods? Forest Bathing isn’t just a casual walk in the woods; I thought the same after a lifetime of mountain hiking out West and here in New England. However, my perspective was transformed after a session with a Certified Forest Bathing Guide. It’s like I rediscovered nature with fresh eyes, a feeling echoed by many seasoned nature lovers. The key difference? The guided group mindfulness experience. Something magical unfolds when you silence the chatter, heighten your senses, and immerse yourself in the “other-than-human” forest atmosphere. My certification school emphasizes guided mindfulness practices, making the natural atmosphere an even more relaxing haven.

  3. Do I have to be in the deep wildnerness to experience Forest Bathing? No need! Forest Bathing sessions thrive on rocky shores, coastal woodlands, and even town parks near bustling roads. While Google might paint a picture of mystical, towering trees, Forest Bathing isn’t about a special destination; it’s a wellness practice. Whether in your town, neighborhood, or yard, the key is to be guided in the mindfulness experience. The magic lies in repeated sessions even with it’s inevitable sounds of airplanes, cars, and lawnmowers – not necessarily in a mythical forest down the street from your Airbnb.

  4. Are there any real health benefits being among trees or in nature?Being among trees isn’t just scenic; it’s scientifically proven to boost health. Trees, especially pine trees, release healing compounds called “phytoncides” – the trees’ immune system. This ancient partnership between humans and trees shields our immune systems too. To get a sense of the exchange of air, just rub your hands on a pine bough and breathe in the scent. It’s not just about trees; breathing in garden soil and negative ions from moving water enhances brain oxygen flow, promoting mental clarity. Additionally, the practice of “GROUNDING” or “EARTHING,” placing bare feet on earth, whether in a forest or on a beach, has shown benefits like improved sleep, reduced inflammation, and increased circulation. (Source: The Forest Therapy School Guidebook)

  5. Can’t I just do Forest Bathing alone? Yes, you can solo Forest Bathe, but consider the group benefits. Try live or recorded audio sessions by Certified Forest Bathing Guides or find a group Zoom session – you might even globe hop into a Scotland forest. The magic of Zoom aside, let me pitch the in-person group experience in your own area. As an independent introvert, I was surprised to find my favorite part of Forest Bathing was the group setting. I went into the forest to discover connection to nature and myself and also gained…people connection too! Groups create a “safe container,” enhancing the experience. Safety in numbers isn’t just a saying; it’s the secret sauce for a more relaxed forest encounter. Think of it like the energy and safety you get from group yoga – nature edition. Everything’s better with friends, even if they’re brand new ones.

To wrap it up: Reading about Guided Forest Bathing is one thing, experiencing it is another. Give it a try!

From our users . . . 

"Forest Bathing Finder has truly been a gift. I don’t have to worry about building a website, taking money when walkers sign up or marketing – now I can just concentrate on guiding my walks!"

- Jane S.

"As a guide I didn’t know how I was going to afford a website of my own – I saved so much money by joining Forest Bathing Finder. This website solved all my problems."

- John R.

"I was traveling to San Diego with five of my girlfriends and we wanted to go on a guided walk – we were able to easily find one, right near our hotel, by using Forest Bathing Finder."

- Suzanne A.

"I was looking for a spa that offered Forest Bathing and this is the only website that had all of my options in one place. Forest Bathing Finder made the search a piece of cake!"

- Suzanne A.

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