Forest Bathing: a mindful walk in nature and finding stillness, awe and wonder!

The forest floor is a soft surface for quiet meandering.
The forest floor is a soft surface for quiet wandering.

After reading one of the most interesting books I have ever read, The Nature Fix, I wanted to experience what the first chapter describes as “forest bathing“. I was interested to see what this mindful practice could offer in addition to my forest walks that are a regular part of my every day!

Forest bathing, shinrin-yoku, is an immersion in the sights, sounds, smells and feels in a forest environment. It originated in Japan in the ’80’s and boasts a hearty list of health benefits including lowering blood pressure, improving feelings of happiness and even boosting the immune system!

Forest Bathing Walk Guided by Mindful in the Wild

To begin our forest bathing journey, we each held a small rock in our hands while our guides from Mindful in the Wild led us through a short, calming narration to help us transfer any worries into the rock, then set it aside in a hidden spot in the garden. Our location of the Bellevue Botanical Gardens was a perfect environment to take in all of the benefits of our quiet walk!

As we slowly wandered through the trails, we stopped periodically for guided commentary on using our senses:

  • sight of the majestic trees, leaves and blossoms just emerging, lichen and moss clinging to rocks and trees, birds flitting amongst the branches, licorice ferns swaying in the wind
  • sound of small bubbling streams, birdsong (hummingbirds, Pileated Woodpecker calls), light breeze brushing the leaves
  • scents of the earth, decaying leaves, fragrant floral blossoms
  • feeling the rough tree bark, cushioned moss, cold water stream, prickly rose thorns, crunchy leaves, smooth rocks, rippled lichen

One technique that our guides showed us was walking extremely slowly, placing each foot on the path very intentionally while observing. The birds seemed to be more calm and didn’t fly away — I witnessed a few small birds darting around the ground in the leaves playfully! A hummingbird cheerfully chirped and clicked on a tree branch as we enjoyed the sun’s rays streaming towards us. Pileated Woodpeckers called loudly as they swooped effortlessly through the treetops just above us.

As we wrapped up the walk, we each found a “sit-spot” for about 10 minutes, just to watch and listen and fully notice the light breeze swaying the licorice ferns on the trees, the sunlight streaming through the branches and the ever-present birdsong. This was a really relaxing time to simply notice and wonder!

To conclude the walk, our guides quoted an inspiring Mary Oliver poem and gifted us each with Douglas Fir + Rosehips botanical tea. The forest bathing walk was a very enjoyable, restorative experience!

Highlights

  • Being in the present while using all of our senses was so calming. It distracted me from worry.
  • The guided meditation was very positive and encouraging!
  • The sit-spot observation really encouraged awareness of our surroundings and hearing the sounds of the forest.

Surprises

  • It was challenging not to pull out a cell phone and take photos to capture the experience! The power of now really decreases worry and anxiety about the past or future.
  • We were all silent throughout the walk which took a lot of willpower not to share the experience verbally!
"Nature can bring you to stillness. That is its gift to you." ~ Eckhart Tolle
This quote says it all! “Nature can bring you to stillness. That is its gift to you.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Sparks of Inspiration!

I hope you feel inspired to try forest bathing — getting out into nature and finding stillness, awe & wonder! Let me know in the comments if you try it!

Warmly,
Karen

#nature #forestbathing #inspiring #stillness #awe #wonder #curiosity #mindfulness #senses #sitspot #forest #woods #garden

8 thoughts on “Forest Bathing: a mindful walk in nature and finding stillness, awe and wonder!

  1. Forest bathing sounds idyllic, Karen. The way you described it, painted such a vivid picture in my mind from the nature walks I’ve done in our forest. It truly is meditative to immerse in the tranquility and beauty of a living, breathing forest. I’m definitely going to try forest bathing and be more intentional during my walks. Thanks for sharing this beautifully written post.

    Like

  2. Hello, Karen!
    Indeed Anne’s course is inspiring.
    Your blog is so nice. The layout is very calming.
    I’ll try forest bathing, looks like is something I need to unwind and calm my anxious mind. Thanks for sharing this.
    Thais

    Like

  3. Thanks Karen for choosing one of our classes for your first Forest Bathing walk. We are honored by your beautiful words describing your experience and grateful to know about this lovely nature blog. Your quote from Eckhart Tolle says it all. It was a pleasure to meet you. We hope to see you again, wander on!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s