Forest Bathing Meditation Script For Meditating In Nature

In Japan, there is a popular wellness exercise called Shinrin Yoku, which literally translates to “Forest Bathing”. It’s a meditation practice in which we meditate in nature.

I find this technique does wonders for me. Anytime I feel stressed, I head out into the forest, sit, and let nature work its magic. I’ll often do this at my local park (Gauge Park). Hey it’s not quite a forest but it’s still peacefuk. I love by willow tree, closing my eyes, taking some deep breaths, and meditating on nature.

Even if you’ve never tried it, you can easily imagine how relaxing it is. Indeed, it is one of the absolute most relaxing meditations.

Let me show you how to do it.

Basics of Forest Bathing

In a moment we will look at the script. But first, let’s look at the basic principles of Shinrin Yoku. Because there is a proper way to meditate in nature.


1: Follow the basic rules

You can choose to do it with a partner or by yourself. If you do it with a partner, make sure they are not disrupting your communion with the earth.

Be mindful and do not overthink.

Many people like to start their journey into the wilderness by going green at home. Eat natural, drink water, and nourish your body. You can also wear organic clothes like cotton, wool and hemp.

If you’re expecting rain, obviously a raincoat is a smart move too. You might also like to take bottles of water, green foods, a whistle (just in case), a compass (it makes me feel more adventurous), a ground cloth to sit on, birdseed, soft-soled shoes, and your phone (just in case).

Don’t go into it with a goal. Have an open mind towards the experience.

I like to aim for a minimum of twenty minutes. 20 to 30 is ideal according to an article by Karin Evans for Greater Good Magazine, Berkley[3]. I also remind myself that’s it not about the hike, it’s about meditation.


2: You don’t have to be in a forest

 The name “Shinrin-Yoku”, literally translates to “Forest Bathing”. It’s a Japanese word. In Japan, there are many forests. Maybe you, however, do not have a forest nearby. If that’s the case, any safe natural environment will do, such as an urban park. Like I said, I do it at the park myself.

Ideally, you will have the sounds of water and birds around you. When we talk about meditating in nature, we really mean meditating where we are exposed to sensory information that reminds us of nature (birdsong, the feeling of the wind on your face, etc.)

I personally like to go somewhere where there are conifers, cedars, and pines because they emit phytoncides that are good for immunity. Trees heal. In fact, South Korea is currently creating many “Healing Forests” as part of its effort to make Koreans healthier.


3: When you enter your forest or natural environment, connect with it

When I enter the “forest”, I like to take a moment to connect with it. I’ll notice the place, the sights, the sounds, the feelings. I’ll breathe-in the forest.

Tune-in to your body.

Notice how you are standing or sitting. Feel the sensations through your body. You might also like to touch parts of the forest, like stones and trees, to experience that connection.

If you have the option of going barefoot, do so. Research from Nature’s Own Research Association in Dover shows that placing your bare feet on the ground helps with grounding. Plus, it has a positive effect on the living matrix, the central connection between living cells.


Forest Bathing Meditation

  1. Sit with good posture. Place your feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure your knees are directly above your ankles. Roll your shoulders back then let them relax. Sit with a straight but relaxed spine. Gently lower your chin to elongate your neck. Place the tip of the tongue lightly against your hard palate. Take a few deep breaths to relax. Close your eyes.
  2. Practice a “Five Senses Meditation”.  Meditate on your senses one at a time. This is the best way of meditating on nature because it attunes your senses to the natural world.
  3. Touch the ground mindfully. Feel the sensation of the forest on your hands.
  4. Take 108 breaths as you practice open meditation. Be aware of the entirety of your environment, meditating on each of the five senses. The aim is to soak up nature, to immerse yourself in mother earth, to clean your mind of stress and to refresh your soul. 
  5. When you finish your meditation, take a moment to express gratitude for nature. Think of all the ways nature benefits you. Remember that you are always connected with nature.
  6. If you decide to walk, do as Thich Nhat Hanh says and “Walk as though kissing the earth with your feet.”
The Art and Science of Forest Bathing with Dr Qing Li

About Forest Bathing

According to Margaret M. Hansen at the University of San Francisco, the tradition of Shinrin-Yoku started in Japan in the 1980s. Since then, it has become one of the most popular forms of nature therapy or “ecopsychology” [1].

I think people who live in the city will find this practice wonderfully refreshing. Im in the city myself and sometimes I need to escape all that concrete and sit around some trees.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 93% of their life indoors.  That’s both upsetting and unhealthy.

In our busy lives, we need to take time to reconnect with nature. The script above will help. And amazingly, you can also do it indoors if you simply are not able to get outside. 


Yes, you can actually do it inside

If you cannot get outside to do this technique the ideal way, don’t worry. Studies from The European Centre for Environment & Human Health show that you can get many of the same benefits by meditating on natural sounds and natural virtual environments [2].

Whether you practice inside or outside, there are many benefits. Let’s take a look.

Benefits 

You can immediately feel the benefits of Shinrin Yoku.

If you tried the nature meditation script above, I am certain you found it marvellous. The relaxing breeze brushing past your face, the birdsong, the grass at your feet. The sweet calls of birdsong around you. It is immediately relaxing.

And guess what. Science shows it does wonders.

A 2010 study [3] [4] on Shinrin-Yoku by the Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences at Chiba University found these benefits:

  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Lowers blood pressure,
  • Lowers pulse rate,
  • Increases parasympathetic nervous system activity
  • Lowers sympathetic nervous system activity for people who usually live in cities or other busy environments.
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Boosts immune system functioning
  • Improves mental health
  • Reduces stress
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Increases focus
  • Vitamin D, of course
  • Fresh air 
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Boosts immune system functioning
  • Improves mental health
  • Reduces stress
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Increases focus.

The “Nature Pill”

Mary Carol Hunter [an associate professor at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability] conducted a study in 2019 that was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. She discovered that spending twenties minutes in nature lowers stress hormone levels.

They described it as a “nature pill”.

For the study, the researchers took 36 volunteers from the Ann Arbor area and asked them to spend a minimum of ten minutes a day in nature, at least three times a week. They could do this when and where they chose, provided they felt connected to nature.

Researchers took saliva samples before and after the nature-exposure period. The samples revealed that spending time in nature reduced the stress hormone cortisol by 21.3%.

Researchers note that it is optimal to spend 20 to 30 minutes in nature. Anything less provides fewer benefits. Anything more does not provide additional benefits.

Given the fact that meditation has so many health benefits, and that walking in nature is one of the best hobbies for mental health, it is easy to see how it benefits you. 

F.A.Q

What if you can’t get outside?

Here’s the good news. If you cannot get outside to do it in nature, studies show that you can glean the majority of the same benefits by using virtual representations of nature. Sometimes I’ll put on some relaxing nature sounds and meditate with my eyes closed in my own home.

How often should I Forest bathe?

Based on research from the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, it is best to practice for at least twenty minutes each time, and for at least three times per week.

What does “forest bathing trip” mean?

 Some people use the term “trip” to describe the natural high they feel when practising Shinrin Yoku.

What’s the Japanese word for forest bathing?

The Japanese word is “Shinrin Yoku”, which can literally be translated as “Forest Bathing”. The word was coined in 1980 to describe the practice of people in Japan spending time in forests for health and wellbeing.

How do you do forest therapy?

Forest therapy is simply the more technical term for Shinrin Yoku. Some people refer to it as forest therapy because of the many proven health benefits of the practice.

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations.

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