You don’t have to wear hiking boots and head off to the Appalachian Trial to commune with nature. If you do, consider yourself at the “mastery” level of appreciating time in nature. Most of us are not in that category, and that’s okay. We meet nature where we are.
In a new book, The Joy of Forest Bathing: The Mysterious Art of Shirin-Yoku, Melanie Choukas-Bradley introduces “Forest Bathing” to western readers and takes the mystery out of this traditional Japanese practice. “Forest bathing” is simply going out in the forest or other wild or semi-wild place and communing with nature. By undergoing a full sensory immersion in nature, you let go of your worries, forget about the rest of the world, and experience the beauty and wonder of the natural world around you. This beautifully illustrated book leads those of us who do not wear hiking boots to step out into the natural world, unplug, and find peace and harmony within oneself and the world around us.
In The Joy of Forest Bathing, the author reiterates what most of us know intuitively and what science has shown to be true: time in nature is good for you. It lowers your blood pressure, improves your focus, makes you feel happier, and soothes your soul. What I liked about this book is that the author opens the door and invites everyone into nature – children, youth, the very elderly, the disabled. You don’t have to be super fit and a rugged mountaineer to experience the wonder of a forest. You can do forest bathing in your own neighborhood or in a public park. The point is to spend quiet, alone time in nature and get away from our wired, overstimulating, stressful world.
The Joy of Forest Bathing: The Mysterious Art of Shirin-Yoku by Melanie Choukas-Bradley comes out August 28 and is available for pre-order now. The illustrations and photographs in the book are lovely and calming in and of themselves; be sure to read this in print or on a color-enabled e-reader. Suggestions for experiencing a sense of wonder in nature are provided for all four seasons, along with many other helpful tips. Highly recommended.
Cynthia Coe is the author of three books introducing children, youth, and adults to environmental stewardship and served as an Environmental Stewardship Fellow of The Episcopal Church. Her books Earth Our Garden Home, Wild Faith, and Considering Birds & Lilies are available on Kindle and in print at this link.