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German beech trees

Forest bathing

Trees provide so much, writes Reese Halter, and being amongst them is a privilege, especially when you have the time to just wander and relax in a forest.

In my most recent article for OG, I’ve written about ‘Our life-giving forests’ (OG 126) and the importance of old-growth as well as the planting of new trees. There’s so many reasons these wonders are crucial to our wellbeing, but one I think we tend to forget, is the power of being in amongst the beauty of a forest and all those immense trees. In Japan they practice what is called shinrin-yoku – in the West we tend to just refer to it as forest bathing.

“These days, we have completely forgotten how to engage with the forest,” Peter Wohlleben writes in his new book The Heartbeat of Trees. “We no longer take the time to do nothing but wander under the trees or lie down for a couple of hours on the soft forest floor.”

Wohlleben goes on to say that forest bathing gives him permission to go out and relax under trees  – something we can all do.

How to forest bathe

  • Walk or sit in a forest and allow the mind to quiet.
  • No electronics, no cameras, no personal goals.
  • I suggest wandering and then pausing. Where does your body pull you? Stop, be quiet, and notice the behaviour of the birds.
  • Can you hear the wind or the sounds of water? What scents can you detect? Can you feel the forces of life — nature’s energy — as it begins to course through your body?
  • If you are with others, agree not to speak. Soak up every moment in your forest-bathing experience. Gather at the end of your walk and share stories. In the hours after your forest cleansing, I suggest journaling the lasting effects.

I think you will agree that the effort it takes to get outside and be with nature in a forest is more than worth the outcome: peace, joy, harmony, balance, compassion, and love.


You can read Reese Halter’s full article in Issue 126. Purchase a copy today and also read an excerpt from Peter Wohlleben’s new book, The Heartbeat of Trees.