Forest Bathing: Taking in the natural world through one’s senses


Ferny glade spotted on my way to the grocery store



How to: Forest-Bathe

  1. Savor sights, sounds, follow your nose as you head into the forest or park. Listen to the tap-tap-tap of a beak on wood or the two-tone note of a birdcall.
  1. Walk barefoot on sand, soil, or grass, if you dare, to receive a dose of earth’s healing electrons. Run your hands over the bark of a tree.


Walking on path close to lake


  1. Breathe deeply: Breathing trees’ natural aromatherapy allows body to inhale a plant chemical known as phytoncides, giving a boost to the immune system.
  1. Dip fingers or toes into a stream.
  1. After a rain, smell the fragrance of the earth and rock radiating the scent of petrichor 
  1. Observe worries falling away as nature fills you with awe, a sense of wonder, transforming negative emotions into positive feelings.
  1. Sink into a state of soft fascination: Capture images of clouds above, sunset beyond, trees nearby. Do you smell lemon, cedar, pine, an herbal scent as you walk?


Dr. Qing Li, expert in forest bathing; associate professor at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo; author of Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness


Fun Facts about Forest Bathing, a pillar of Japanese culture for decades:

  1. An estimate: Forests cover about 31% of the world’s land surface. One study found there are about 3.04 trillion trees on earth.
  1. Bird sounds appeal to the human ear because birdcalls fall between the frequency of 2500-3500 hertz, the range most pleasing to us.
  1. Forests produce oxygen, cleanse the air we breath, purify water, stop erosion. Forest plants restore, refresh troubled minds; help heal wounds.

  1. The Hoh rainforest in Washington’s Olympic National Forest, which I’ve visited, has a small red stone that marks one square inch of silence, not completely silent. (Listen to the relaxing video here!)
  1. Gardening is another way to experience “forest bathing” – Digging releases microbes in the soil. Eating veggies plucked from the ground improves healthThanks to author friend Elaine Mansfield for supplying this link to Oliver Sacks’ article in the NYTimes on the benefits of gardening.


Fact of Fiction?

A group of Canadian, American and Australian researchers studying tree density and health in Toronto found that having ten more trees on a city block can make residents feel as good as being given a $10,000 pay raise or being seven years younger.  Neighborhood Greenspace and Health in a Large Urban Area, 2015



Haiku inspired by sunset in our neighborhood

What would you put into your forest-bathing bucket?