I spent some time in Japan this past summer to mark my husband’s grandmother’s one hundredth birthday (and to introduce the new baby!). While there, we spent a bit of time in Tokyo, before heading to Kyushu.
Today, I want to talk about one of my favorite self-care practices: Japanese forest bathing.
One of my favorite places in Tokyo is Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine complex in the middle of the Harajuku neighborhood. In the middle of a city of 40 million people, it is a respite. Inside the beautifully wooded park, dotted with torii (shrine gates, like the one above), you can only hear the chatter of other visitors, birds chirping, and the breeze blowing through the trees.
I love the feeling of the breeze on my face. I love the way the light filters through the branches and leaves. Escaping to this little bit of nature in the middle of a bustling city calms me.
Japanese forest bathing is powerful.
Plus, for most of us, it’s free. It’s simple. It takes only a few minutes to absorb its benefits.
It’s some of my favorite medicine. And when I’ve been in the city too long, it feels like sloughing off tension and energy that has been keeping me stuck. Being in the trees helps me to feel free.
Just a few minutes looking up at the trees makes my soul feel a little bit more quiet and at ease.
In Japan, there’s a term for this kind of medicine: shinrin-yoku. It means forest bathing. Some doctors prescribe Japanese forest bathing to their patients because it’s been proven to lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and so many other good things.
Isn’t it interesting how the tiniest actions—like taking one deep breath, or drinking one glass of water, or stepping into nature for a few minutes—can make such a big difference to our health and wellbeing?
Our self-care does not have to be big and showy.
Quiet action on our own behalf can be deeply powerful.
And speaking of tiny, powerful things…
If you haven’t checked it out yet, I recently released a new class. It’s free. It’s called The Tiny Little Self-Care Class. Get all the details and sign up here.
The class includes simple, realistic ideas on how to de-stress, reclaim time for the priorities that matter to you, take good care of yourself, and simply have a better day.
Busy parents, creative entrepreneurs, healers, activists, and world-changers… People who give, give, give, and do, do, do… this class is my gift for you.
I hope you’ll find a way to refill your well sometime today, too. Maybe a forest bath–or a bubble bath. Or a bus ride without your phone in your hands. Or listening to Harry Potter audiobooks while you chop carrots for dinner.
Whatever sounds like “a relief,” like “coming home,” please give that gift to yourself.
Self-care is something you can do today to refuel, focus, strengthen, and prepare yourself for the work that needs to be handled tomorrow. It’s amazing what even the quietest actions can do.
Also on the blog:
- Resilience Practice: strength for a stressful world
- The power of journaling, plus 10 prompts to get you started