What is Forest Bathing?
Taking the day to wander a forest, hike a mountain, or traverse the countryside is always a great way to recharge. It disconnects you from the stress and rush of your daily life, and offers a way for you to unwind and refocus. Have you ever wondered why these excursions into nature work so well?
Forest bathing, or forest therapy is an emerging technique in professional circles, and has existed in ancient practices. If you’re not seeking therapy, you can always take part in forest bathing, a practice that comes from the Japanese tradition of Shinrin-yoku. And not surprising, terpenes are a large part of the forest bathing experience.
The Genesis Of Forest Bathing
Shinrin-yoku involves intentionally and consciously walking through a forest. As you wander, the forest is said to immerse the mind and promote healing. According to Dr. Qing Li, the author of “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health And Happiness,” Shinrin-yoku “…is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.” He also says that, “By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.” Some would simply call this exercise, camping, or a “walk-about,” but Li believes the connection to nature goes deeper than that.
The term Shinrin-yoku means to “take in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” In the 1980s, the practice of forest bathing was developed, and it has become a significant part of preventive health care and mental health awareness. Scientists in Japan and South Korea have completed studies that show the numerous benefits of the practice.
Forest bathing guides give some specific, direct instructions if you want to experience it fully. Psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo says in a “mindbodygreen” article that, “Forest bathing encourages you to take deep breaths of clean air and to simply take some time out of your busy life to do something special for yourself.” Forest bathing goes deeper. Not only do you need to take deep breaths, but you need to focus solely on your breath, alternating between your senses, allowing the forest to wash over you.
The Effects Of Forest Bathing On Human Health
As studies have shown, forest bathing can be much more than a “day in the woods.” In fact, a study in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology shows that “forest bathing enhances human natural killer activity and expression of cancer cells.” What’s more, the level of adrenaline and noradrenaline has been shown to also be controlled with regular forest bathing or forest therapy.
The science communities continue to research forest bathing as a therapeutic alternative to chronic ailments. Clinical and anecdotal evidence shows that forest bathing can be extremely beneficial to those who practice it regularly — especially the technophiles and recluses of the world.
Terpenes In Forest Air
If you didn’t already know, terpenes are present in over 30,000 recorded natural sources around the world. Many of those sources are found in forests and produced by trees, plants, and herbs. Alpha Pinene and Beta Pinene is commonly from pine trees. And Limonene has been found to be emitted in forests throughout the world - in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado; Monti Cimini, Italy; and Black Forest, Southern Germany. Terpenes are a fundamental part of existence on this planet, and our lives are better with them.
These natural plant compounds interact with multiple biological systems in our body and have immensely profound effects on our health and behavior. For example, our focus:
Our lives are busier than ever with jobs, school, and family life. Trying to focus on many activities or even a single thing for long periods of time can mentally drain us, a phenomenon called Directed Attention Fatigue. Spending time in nature, breathing in terpenes like Beta Pinene, while looking at plants, water, birds and other aspects of nature gives the cognitive portion of our brain a break, allowing us to focus better and renew our ability to be patient. Sometimes the best thing for productivity is a removal from your everyday environment and a rest.
How To Get Started With Forest Bathing
A good goal is to match your rhythm and speed to the forest, breathing in and out. Here is how you can effectively take a forest bath:
#1. Discover The Right Location
The first step is to find the right place. You need to find a forest that is secluded from the hustle and bustle of your life. For most, an hour or two drive from your city will get you to an ideal location. In some cases, you may need to do an overnight trip. Ultimately you want to be removed as possible from the sights, smells, sounds, and people of your modern life.
Choose a time of day that works for you without adding stress to your life. Time that you can spent completely detached from your everyday life. If you want to properly take a forest bath, you need to slow down. The speed at which we live our modern lives is so much faster than that of the forest. In fact, erase the concept of time entirely when immersed in the trees.
It may seem silly to think that you need to find the “right place” in the forest to take your bath. Also, a forest bath doesn’t typically involve water, either. It’s an immersion in a forest to give your senses something else to focus on — something slower and more rhythmic than your modern life. To find the right location for you, start with removing yourself as much as possible from your tech-filled life. Once you feel detached enough, decide how you will experience the forest. Will you wander around with intention, or will you sit in one place? Bring a book, a lunch, a chair, whatever makes you most comfortable and soak in the essence of the forest, breath the freshly filtered air, and consider even thinking of things you love, things you've been taking for granted, and lounge in appreciation.
#2. Schedule and Make Reconnecting with Nature a Priority
It's been proven time and time again that being surrounded by trees is profoundly impactful and beneficial in so many different aspects of our lives. Exposure to forest and trees is shown to:
- boost the immune system
- lower blood pressure
- reduce stress
- improve mood
- increase ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
- accelerate recovery from surgery or illness
- increase energy level
- improve sleep
While we breathe in the fresh air, we breathe in phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects. Phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal qualities which help plants fight disease. When people breathe in these chemicals, our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells or NK.
These cells kill tumor- and virus-infected cells in our bodies. In one study, increased NK activity from a 3-day, 2-night forest bathing trip lasted for more than 30 days. Japanese researchers are currently exploring whether exposure to forests can help prevent certain kinds of cancer. In the process of combating their own microscopic predators, plants and botanicals help us ward off our own.
Make nature immersion a priority. For your physical and mental health, and truly so much more.
RELATED: Terpenes For Creativity Boosts
#3. Bring Only What Is Necessary
If you're adventuring out to a secluded area, take only what's necessary. A small first aid kit, water, and a map (if needed). The less the better. If you feel it necessary, keep your phone in your bag on silent, but I would highly recommend against it. The more you have on you, the more your brain will be considering using when you inevitably hit a low point in stimulus.
In the 24/7 notification-choking world we're living in today, most of our brains aren't used to silence, boredom, with no stimulus. But this is a powerful tool in processing your past, and reattaining the focus and memory of your pre-smart phone life. You will 100% be inclined to check your phone, your e-mail, your texts, or to even take a picture or write a note. If you do so, be aware of this habit and don't let a quick desire to jot an idea into your notes turn into 30-minute session scrolling through e-mail and social media platforms.
All in all, the less you have on you, the better.
#4. Take It Slow
As you walk through the forest, take your time. You’re not in a rush. It’s not a race. Just be. Your intent is to connect with the forest’s rhythm — to feel connected. Shinrin-yoku is not a hike, walk, or jog. It’s an intent-based sense experience so that your body can slow down and connect with something other than your modern life.
If you'd prefer to hike, then hike! But the practice of Shinrin-yoku is one that's more deliberately calm and still.
#5. Focus On The Small Details
As you settle into your forest bath, take note of the small details that you see, hear, and smell. Or the lack thereof. Whether you’re sitting or wandering, look around, take in deep breaths, listen for even the faintest noises. Glance up at the forest canopy. Notice the light breaking through. Find leaves and study the patterns on them. If you encounter a river or stream, watch as the water breaks off rocks and rolls over ridges. As you walk past trees, bushes, and more, touch them. Slowly drag your fingers across them. The focus on small details is to help you feel, not think.
If you get bored consider taking 100 deep breaths, I guarantee most reading will get lost in a thought or idea by the time they reach 20.
“I took a walk in the woods and
came out taller than the trees.”
- Henry David Thoreau
#6. Consider Companions
Some people feel more comfortable with a friend, whether human or animal. You can enjoy the company of others as you bathe in the forest. Remember, the ultimate outcome of Shinrin-yoku is to slow down and reconnect with your senses.
#7. Breathe Deep
Your breath is the basis of your forest bath. It’s what you will focus on, primarily, as you wander the forest. Your intent is to inhale and exhale deeply. Eventually, you will feel your body’s pace begin to slow. This is a sign that you are integrating with nature. You can focus solely on you breath, enjoying the scents and views.
Apply Shinrin-Yoku To Daily Life
You may not have time every single week to find a forest and intently wander. However, you can utilize the same principles at home. Get yourself a few different plants and place them in a given room. You can infuse your life with terpenes, too, by placing them in an air diffuser, humidifier, candle, or really any home product with a scent!
Best Places to Immerse Yourself Into!
If you love to travel and you enjoy spending time in forests, you will want to read this list of the top five forests to visit for a unique forest bathing experience. What’s more, each of these forests have been shown to emit specific terpenes, which can add to the experience. Your forest bathing doesn’t have to be isolated to far away forests in other countries. You can enjoy the terpenes in these forests right at home, too.
If you’re apprehensive toward travel in today’s society - or simply want to enjoy the terpenes mentioned in this article, you can shop our terpenes for sale online now.
#1. Bijarim Forest of South Korea – Myrcene
The South Korean region has a balmy subtropical climate. It also has an extensive spectrum of trees, too. A few of the most abundant tree species are the Japanese red pine, Korean pine, and Japanese larch. As visitors wander the shady groves, they will inevitably come into contact with the dominate terpene Alpha Pinene, as well as the second most prominent, Myrcene.
Myrcene emits an earthy, musky aroma and is commonly sourced from hops. The flavor tends to be fruity or balsamic. At True Terpenes, the Myrcene isolate is a full spectrum and full flavor product that you can enjoy at home. Shop online now!
#2. John Muir National Forest - Pinene, Myrcene
Muir National Forest is home to some of the most stunning views in the world. With enormous redwood trees cascading over the horizon, it's a beautiful place to take a break from society. Produced by and found in the resin of many redwood trees (sequoia sempervirens) are the terpene isolates myrcene and pinene, among others.
#3. Boreal Forests, Eastern Finland – Camphene and Cineol
Finland can rightfully be deemed the “forest kingdom” of the world. It’s a fairly large company with more than 70 percent of its surface covered in layer of forest. Indigenous trees coat much of the country, introducing to those lucky enough to explore, birch and pine trees. One of the most well-known trees in the forest is the silver birch (Betula Pendula). Within the chilly Finnish forests, two terpenes reign supreme: Camphene and Cineol (Eucalyptol). Limonene and Alpha Pinene can also be found in these Finnish forests. Do you want to enjoy Camphene while at home? Shop our terpene isolates for sale online now!
RELATED: Terpenes & Trees
#4. Cumbres del Ajusco, Mexico – Linalool
Beyond the populous Mexico City, high in the elevated slopes, the Cumbres del Ajusco National Park exists. In the park, visitors will find expansive forests that attract extreme sports athletes and wilderness adventurers from around the globe. What’s more, the terpene Linalool is abundant in these forests, as well as Alpha Pinene. Linalool is also one of the most common terpenes found in household fragrances like soaps, shampoos, and detergents. It’s also found in perfumes and other fragrances in the beauty industry.
#5. Rocky Mountains, Colorado – Limonene
Visit the Rocky Mountains in Colorado to find yourself immersed in a number of forests. The trees native to this region still attract visitors from all over the world. The Deciduous trees in this region alter their leaf colors as the season changes. For most, they enjoy watching the leaves go from green, to orange, to gold. However, the best time to enjoy these forests for the sake of terpenes is in the middle of summer. During this warm season, the trees emit the largest amount of the terpene Limonene. If you want to experience Limonene without traveling to Colorado, you can shop True Terpenes isolate online now!
#6. Black Forest, Southern Germany – Limonene
As another forest that touts Limonene as a dominant terpene, the Black Forest in Southern Germany is another region where you can experience high level of terpene emittance. This forest alone has captured the imaginations and minds of poets, writers, painters, other artists, and more. Those who are lucky enough to wander through it tend to never forget their time there.
What are You Waiting For?
By 2050, it is projected 66% of the world’s population will be living in cities. We will become more and more aware of the effects living in large, unnatural, grey, smog-filled cities will have on us. Terpenes found from botanicals can help reduce the disconnect to nature many experience in cities with mass dwellings deeply detached from nature.
Too many people are confined to concrete jungles and disconnected from the true nature of our distant ancestors. If reading this has got itching for the outdoors and has you reflecting on your how much time you spend indoors, breathing recycled air, this is a sign to go immerse yourself in nature as soon as possible! And in the meantime, consider infusing your life with terpenes, the life-promoting compounds that nature gives us!
Have you every forest bathed? How did it go? Leave a comment below!
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