Until very recently, I didn’t have a good name for this third element. But then I heard a podcast in NPR. Forest bathing, they said, is a new concept in the US. It’s an idea that comes from Japan, where they practice ‘shinrin-yoku’ which, loosely translated, means ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’. The Japanese are staunch believers that spending a little time outdoors and soaking up the smells, sounds, and sights in a natural setting is good for your health and wellbeing.
It turns out they are right. Studies have found that spending time out in nature reduces stress, helps working memory, and increases positive outlook, among other things.
Sadly, we are not a nation of outdoors people. Most of us only spend seven percent of our day in the elements. But forest bathing is beginning to take off, classes in shinrin-yoku are springing up all over the country. Some people have taken to calling it the new yoga.
I’ve never taken a formal class in forest appreciation, but I do know that my Tuesday excursions provide a good elixir for both my body and my soul. I guess my friends and I have been forest bathers for a long time.