How to do forest bathing in London

Forest bathing, the practice of taking in the forest atmosphere during a leisurely walk, is a great way to become acquainted with Mother Nature and to de-stress. And what’s more it’s not exclusive to the great outdoors or countryside, as you can do it right on your doorstep here in London.

A therapy that borrows from mindfulness and meditation, forest bathing was developed in Japan in the 1980s to promote wellbeing. The idea is that you focus on your senses and surroundings as you walk through nature – whether breathing in the fresh air as you soak up the scenery, touching plants or trees, or sitting somewhere and listening to the sounds around you.

So how can you forest bathe in London, you may ask? Actually it’s pretty easy. There are numerous woodlands in London, many of them close to central London, which are a good starting point. If you are in north London, check out Queen’s Wood, adjacent to the popular Highgate Wood. In east London, there’s Wick Woodland in Hackney. Sydenham Hill Wood in south London, or Osterley Park in west London. Or you could of course explore the rather spectacular Epping Forest, London’s largest open space.

Here are some top tips on how to forest bathe:

1. Find a time of day when fewer people are around.
2. Switch off your electronic devices. Mobile phones especially can be a distraction so give yourself a digital detox for 1-2 hours.
3. Walk through the woodlands or forest at a leisurely pace and engage all your senses. Wandering slowly through the trees can be meditative, allowing you to be present and consciously aware of trees, as well as plantlife and wildlife.
4. Engage all your senses – sight, see, sound, touch and taste even. Touch a tree, look up at the sky – whatever resonates with you in that moment.
5. Pay attention to your breathing. This is a great way to relax and clear your mind, so you can focus on your surroundings.
6. Stay as long as you feel comfortable. 1-2 hours is recommended to get the benefits from Forest Bathing, but do not force it – do what you feel comfortable with. Remember it’s not about clocking up the mileage in the forest or woodlands, so even if you find a spot and spend most of your time sitting and observing, that’s great.

Rosa Medea is Editor-in-Chief at Life and Soul Magazine.


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