5 ways to do forest bathing

What even is forest bathing?

A woman of color stands on a log hanging over a creek and peers through her binoculars.
Emily Harwitz, host of League podcast I'll Go If You Go Season 2. Photo by Daniel Gorostieta, courtesy of Save the Redwoods League.

Originating as a mindfulness practice in Japan called shinrin-yoku, forest involves activities that help heighten your senses to experience nature on another level and improve overall well being.

It’s a vibe.

In the latest episode of the League’s I’ll Go If You Go podcast, certified forest bathing guide Juan Lazo Bautista took us into the redwoods and explained how this immersive nature experience works, including a meditation, tools, and practices to help guide you on your journey.

Here are 5 invitations that listeners can try on their own.

  1. Pleasures of Presence: Find a clearing and become acquainted with the rhythm of your surroundings through your senses. Close your eyes, tune into your breath and notice the smells, sounds, touch of the forest. Once you’ve cycled through each sense, open your eyes and notice with curiosity what is around you. How has it changed since you arrived?
  2. What’s in Motion?: In a 15-minute period, move as slowly as you can across your natural landscape, noticing what’s in motion. Pay particular attention to how you relate to this change in your own body.
  3. Zoom In, Zoom Out: Get up close to a feature in your landscape. This can be a leaf, tree bark, spiderweb—anything that strikes your interest. Inspect it with wonder and curiosity; notice how it makes you feel and how you relate to it. Slowly begin to zoom out, moving out to get a bigger picture and notice how this feels. How do these seemingly different perspectives relate to each other?
  4. Perfume: Collect three or more smells from around you—items you find on the ground floor preferably. Try different combinations and create your very own perfume. Try naming it. Be playful with it if it feels good. Share your perfume with others.
  5. Stone Stories: Find a stone near you. Explore it visually. Then close your eyes and explore it with your touch alone. Notice how it is unique. Imagine the journey the stone has been through to be in your hands now. What stories and lived experiences does it hold? Try holding it in different ways and notice what different stories you can notice.

About our Guide

A hispanic man of Mexican heritage in a baseball cap, blue flannel, purple shirt and dark pants is sitting in a redwood grove and smiling.
Juan Lazo Bautista, certified forest bathing guide and guest on Episode 2, Season 2 of League podcast, I’ll Go If You Go.

Juan Lazo Bautista (he/him) currently resides with his family on Kizh/Tongva lands in what is today known as Tustin, CA. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley and has experience in labor organizing, youth empowerment, facilitation, and immigrant rights work. He is proud to sit on the board of Defensores de la Cuenca (Watershed Defenders), a non-profit dedicated to helping the Latinx community connect with the natural world. Among his favorite things to do is catching last-minute flights with friends, watching Saturday soccer, bike riding, writing poetry, and visiting his extended family in Oaxaca, Mexico.

About the author

Emily Harwitz is a multimedia science journalist and writer whose work focuses on the environment and our connection to it. She loves the outdoors and hopes to tell stories that foster community and wonder.

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