Forest Bathing Meditation Script, Benefits & More

I love forest bathing meditation. In Japan it’s called “Shinrin Yoku” [1], which literally translates to “Forest Bathing”. The meditation script, benefits, and tips in this guide will help you to start this rising form of meditation.  

Nothing feels better than sitting by a willow tree, closing your eyes, taking some deep breaths, and meditating on nature in the forest. Even if you’ve never tried it, you can easily imagine how relaxing this activity is. It helps you to feel calm, centred, and connected with nature.

The tradition on Shinrin-Yoku started in Japan in the 1980s [1], making it one of the most modern types of meditation (although thousands of years ago Buddhist monks would sit in the forest to meditate, they did not refer to it as “Forest Bathing Meditation” or “Shinrin Yoku”).

Nature bathing, the practice of letting yourself be one with nature, caught on quickly, largely thanks to its many health benefits and the fact that it is one of the most enjoyable meditations you can possibly do.

It’s an incredibly refreshing practice in this day and age, and offers an escape from the busy city. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 93% of their life indoors. That’s a whopping chunk of time. And it reveals how we are becoming disconnected from nature.

As we live busier lives in noisier environments, it is becoming imperative to take the time for ourselves to head out into nature and reconnect with the trees, the water, the birds, and the natural world.

And if you cannot get outside to do this technique in the ideal way, studies show that you can get many of the same benefits by meditating on natural sounds and natural virtual environments [2], such as by playing relaxing birdsongs on Youtube. Alternatively, you might like to create a meditation garden area to practice in.

Whether you practice inside or outside, there are many benefits of Forest Bathing meditation. Let’s take a look at what this technique will do for you.

Forest Bathing Meditation Script


1: Follow the basic rules

You can choose to do forest bathing meditation with a partner or by yourself.

Be mindful and do not overthink.

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

Aim for a minimum of twenty minutes. 20 to 30 is ideal according to research. [3]

If you’re walking instead of sitting, do not treat it like a workout. It’s a meditation. [If you do decide to walk, use my Walking Meditation script]

2: An ideal place

Despite being called “Forest bathing meditation”, you do not need to do it in a forest. The name comes from “Shinrin-Yoku”, which 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. In that case, any natural environment will do.  Although ideally, you will have the sounds of water and birds around you.

3: When you enter your forest or natural environment

When you enter, take a moment to connect with the forest or the natural environment. Notice the place you are in, the sights, the sounds, the feelings. 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.

4: The actual forest bathing meditation script

  1. Sit with good posture. Take a few deep breaths to relax. Close your eyes.
  2. Practice a “Five Senses Meditation”. This is where you go through each of your senses, meditating on them one at a time.
  3. Touch the ground mindfully. Feel the sensation of the forest on your hands.
  4. Now sit with your legs crossed and eyes closed. Take 108 breaths as you practice open meditation (Be aware of the entirety of your environment, meditating on each of the five senses).
  5. When you finish your meditation, take a moment to express gratitude for nature. Think of all the ways nature benefits of you. Remember that you are always connected with nature.

Benefits of Forest Bathing Meditation

In my experience, you can immediately feel the benefits of forest bathing meditation the moment you start doing it. The relaxing breeze brushing past your face. The sweet calls of birdsong around you. The grass at your feet. It is immediately relaxing. And science shows it works. Not only does it give you the regular amazing benefits of meditation, it does much more besides.

A 2010 study [4] on Shinrin-Yoku found that forest bathing meditation helps reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, lower pulse rate, and increase parasympathetic nerve activity and lower sympathetic nerve activity for people who usually live in cities or other busy environments.

MaryCarol Hunter [an associate professor at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability] conducted a study last year (2019) that was published in the journal Frontier in Psychology. She discovered that spending twenties minutes in nature (meditating or doing other activities) 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, for at least three times a week. They could do this when and where they chose, provided they felt connected to nature.

The 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 less benefits. Anything more does not provide additional benefits.

Exposure to nature also has many other benefits. It improves sleep quality, improves immune system functioning, improves mental health, reduces stress, reduces inflammation, and increases focus. Those benefits are the mental health aspects. There’s also the fact that forest-bathing brings with it lots of fresh air and Vitamin D.

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

https://youtu.be/MyZb2BS04y0

F.A.Q

What if you can’t get outside?

Here’s the good news. If you cannot get outside to do a forest bathing meditation in nature, studies show that you can glean the majority of the same benefits by using virtual representations of nature. You might like to put on some relaxing nature sounds and meditate with your eyes closed in your 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 forest bathing meditation for at least twenty minutes each time, and for at least three times per week.

What does forest bathing trip mean?

Forest Bathing trips are simply trips in which you visit a natural environment to practice Shinrin Yoku (“Forest Bathing”). Some people use the term “forest bathing trip” to describe the natural high they feel when practicing Shinrin Yoku.

What’s the Japanese word for forest bathing?

The Japanese word for forest bathing 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?

Essentially, 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.

1: Wikipedia, Nature Therapy, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_therapy

2: A prescription for “nature” – the potential of using virtual nature in therapeuticsatthew P White,1 Nicola L Yeo, Peeter Vassiljev, Rikard Lundstedt, Mattias Wallergård, Maria Albin and Mare Lõhmus,  he European Centre for Environment & Human Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231506/

3: Why Forest Bathing Is Good for Your Health, Karin Evans, Greater Good Magazine, Berkley, https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_forest_bathing_is_good_for_your_health

4: The Physiological Effects of Shinrin-yoku (Taking in the Forest Atmosphere or Forest Bathing): Evidence From Field Experiments in 24 Forests Across Japan, Bum Jin Park 1, Yuko Tsunetsugu, Tamami Kasetani, Takahide Kagawa, Yoshifumi Miyazaki, National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19568835/


Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation. You can read his books on Amazon

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