Although forest bathing has its own researched benefits, including the stress-relieving phytoncides from particular trees, Nature Bathing is a practice you can do in any natural environment that feels restorative to you. For example, a twenty-minute stroll through a city botanical garden without being on your smartphone can boost cognition and memory as well as improve feelings of wellbeing. You can practice in a nearby park or make an adventure of it and go out of town. I highly recommend both. Try to nature bathe in a place close-by once a week and get a little farther away once a month or every other month. I encourage you to organize an annual trip to a state or national park: Research shows that the wilder the nature we immerse ourselves in, the greater restoration we experience.
To begin the practice, choose a location. Find a place where you can walk aimlessly and as slowly as possible.
Notice your surroundings as you walk. See the trees, the plants, the light stretching across the land, any wildlife nearby. Listen to the sounds of your environment—the wind blowing, the rising of the tide, the croak of a frog. Feel the ground underneath your feet, the texture of the land. Inhale and exhale deeply, allowing your body to find its way to the place you are currently in. Give your body time to catch up to this moment.
Continue to walk slowly and pay attention to the impulses that your body has to walk in a particular direction and follow them. There is no need to rush. Take your time. You’re not trying to get anywhere; you are basking in the beauty and wonder of nature. You are settling into a more coherent, relaxed state.
When complete, offer gratitude to the land and to anything else you feel called to. Notice how your body feels. Bring awareness to your thoughts, emotions, and sense of spaciousness.
Excerpted from PERMISSION TO REST by arrangement with Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2023, Ashley Neese.