One of my favorite things, is discovering the way other cultures immerse themselves in the world around them. I love reading and learning about rituals, customs, even superstitions from different countries, and one of my favorites is that of “shinrin-yoku” or quite literally, forest bathing. In Japan, forest bathing is an extremely popular holistic approach to cleansing ourselves with the natural world that exists around us. A couple of days ago I mentioned something precisely like this, and then remembered shinrin-yoku and how important it can be. Put simply, it’s bathing yourself in a forest, a wild place, by not exercising, hiking, or jogging through it, but simply
Yes! I grew up in the desert but even as a kid, I knew I needed to just “be” outside -no agenda - to recenter myself. Everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve taken advantage of whatever wild areas were nearby, and in periods where I couldn’t for whatever reason, my mental health really tanked.
Now, I do part-time farming and co-run a nonprofit where we help kids connect with nature, and it’s amazing how even in the chaos of a group of kids, there are so many moments of stillness and clear, authentic alignment. When we ask them to notice what they’re sensing - what sounds, smells, textures - it’s like this sweet period of nothing else mattering.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I think it’s something that comes naturally to us, and even though we’ve lost it somewhat along the way, I’m so happy to see this trend toward reconnection.
Growing up in Japan and being raised Shinto and Buddhist, shinrin-yoku is part of my life. I miss home but what I miss the most is walking into the forest and slowly making my way up to the shrine. Being present, feeling the ground beneath my feet, breathing the fresh air, sensing the change of energy. Nothing is more humble and soul reviving than being in the forest.