“Differences can be found, for example, in the trees and plants present, which have different effects on us,” she explains. “The question is: What substances am I exposed to, what surrounds me? Quite similar to aromatherapy.”
There are also different types based on the type of the experience you want.
“It always depends on who you are accompanied by,” Pircher says. “You can feed forest bathing with knowledge, or you can focus specifically only on sensing or feeling.”
Forest bathing with knowledge, for example, is more guided. Forest bathing by senses is more about what you perceive by observing, hearing, feeling, touching, smelling, and tasting.
What benefits does forest bathing have?
Some of the benefits Pircher describes include reducing stress, increasing concentration, finding inner peace, and sleeping better.
How often should you forest-bathe in order to achieve the effects?
As often as you can, Pircher says.
“The first time you should start with a forest bath for at least three hours, preferably with a guide to learn methods and what the individual components of forest bathing are,” she says. “During this time, the cell phone should be turned off—and you should completely engage in forest bathing. Later, less time can be helpful when you have learned how to get involved, about half an hour or a whole hour. Then one goes into the forest with a completely different consciousness, and the feeling from the professional forest bathing can be brought out again.”
Can anyone do forest bathing?
You don’t need to go to a fancy resort, though, to forest-bathe. Anywhere in nature is fine, Pircher advises.
“On flat terrain and level paths, even people with limited mobility can forest bathe perfectly,” she says. She also notes “forest bathing is not a substitute for therapy for severe depression.”
How do you find a good forest for forest bathing?
“The forest must be safe and accessible if you are alone,” says Pircher. “It must be diverse, e.g., mixed forest, have many plants, clearings, possibly also a small stream or similar. The most important thing: You must be able to feel a sense of ‘being away from it all.’ In Japanese this is called shinrin-yoku, or ‘immersing yourself in the atmosphere.’ Get deep into the forest.”
Are there any dangers in forest bathing?
Pircher doesn’t recommend going into the forest during bad weather, or when you are tired, hungry, or uncomfortably warm or cold. You also should not eat any unfamiliar plants while in the forest.
What else should you keep in mind?
Pircher doesn’t advise trying to quickly squeeze forest bathing into a busy schedule but to rather block off a specific amount of time for it.