When was the last time you went for a walk in nature and really took the time to stop and listen, and I mean really listen, to all the different sounds around you? To look at the intricate details, to breathe in the clean air, to feel the connection between living things?
If you’re like me, it’s probably been a little while – sometimes life gets in the way of the simple things.
In Japanese culture, mindful time in nature is called “Shinrin-yoku”, loosely translated as ‘bathing in the forest’, and it comes with a wealth of benefits to the body and soul (and, no, you don’t even have to get wet!).
Research tells us that this practice can reduce stress, support your immune system, lower heart rate and blood pressure, improve sleep and help with focus and attention.
For a little inspiration, here are my top five places for Forest Bathing.
"Kings Park, in Perth, is one of the world’s largest and most beautiful inner-city parks and it’s the perfect place for a nature immersion."
Where: Palm Beach, Sydney NSW
Mayumi Kataoka, from Forest Minds in Sydney, offers introductory Forest Bathing sessions at the stunning Crane Lodge in Palm Beach and the team here at Well Traveller were blessed to enjoy this experience. Mayu explained the origins of Shinrin Yoku and the myriad of health benefits it can bring (doctors actually prescribe forest bathing in Japan).
You’ll spend an hour immersed in nature as Mayu gently guides you on a mindful exploration of the lush gardens. View the veins of a staghorn through a microscope, take time to breathe with the majestic fig tree, feel the smoothness and strength of the towering eucalypts and listen to the sounds around you. The session concludes with a grounding tea ceremony and time to reflect on your experience. Take it from us, you’ll be feeling calm and totally present.
This introductory session is offered exclusively to guests of Crane Lodge and truly compliments your stay at this private wellness retreat on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. For a longer Forest Bathing experience, Mayu also hosts 3-hour forest bathing and nature walks in the Lane Cove National Park on Sundays.
Where: Great Ocean Road, VIC
If you are after the ultimate Forest Bathing experience, where you can soak in lush greenery by day and drift off to sleep to the sounds of a rainforest at night, our pick is a relaxing weekend at Qii House in Victoria. It’s secluded from the world, surrounded by the Great Otway National Park near the Great Ocean Road, and has its own internationally accredited forest therapy trail called the ‘Zaborin Walk’.
Enjoy the walk on your own, or with a guide, and take your time. There are beautiful spaces to sit and reflect, to meditate, read a book or try some nature journaling. The sounds, sights and smells of the forest will do wonders for you.
Accommodation options at Qii House include the incredible Eco Lodge which sleeps up to 8 people in 4 comfortable bedrooms. There are also three gorgeous tiny houses, with custom built eco baths, a hammock, yoga mats and outdoor seating.
Where: Perth, WA
You might think that you can’t practice Forest Bathing in the city, but Kings Park, in the heart of Perth, is one of the world’s largest and most beautiful inner-city parks and it’s the perfect place for a nature immersion.
Belinda, Founder of Mindful in Nature, takes guests on a slow and tranquil walk along a 1.5km trail of protected bushland, asking them to tune in to the world around them, noticing the small details that we often miss. Throughout the walk, there’s the chance to participate in various activities designed to enhance your connection with both yourself and the environment, and plenty of time to pause and be still. Even after this relatively short experience, you’ll leave feeling calmer, more relaxed and energised.
Where: Adelaide and Adelaide Hills, SA
Several transformative hiking experiences led Lisa Murphy to establish Big Heart Adventures and to curate opportunities for others to connect deeply with nature through guided walks. Now a trained Forest Therapy Guide, Lisa leads small groups on mindful walks in South Australia, with locations including the beautiful Himeji Gardens and the Botanic Gardens in Adelaide’s CBD, Belair National Park, Para Wirra Conservation Park and Morialta Conservation Park.
These peaceful sessions will immerse you in nature with a slow pace, and time to appreciate the flora and fauna around you. Lisa will also offer several ‘invitations’ throughout the session to help you be present in nature in a more meaningful way. The intimate tea ceremony is a beautiful way to complete the practice.
"Mayumi Kataoka, from Forest Minds in Sydney, offers introductory Forest Bathing sessions at the stunning Crane Lodge in Palm Beach."
Heartwood Nature Bathing
Where: Brisbane, QLD
Monique Ross, founder of Heartwood Nature Bathing and a certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, loves helping people slow down and switch off. Located in Brisbane, Queensland, Monique leads small groups on gentle walks through ancient rainforests, gardens, native bushland, wetlands or along the beach. She can even tailor a private experience just for you.
During these 2-hour experiences, Monique will encourage you to explore and engage with the natural world in any way that feels right to you. You’ll gradually cover around two kilometres during the session, over relatively flat ground, and we love that people with a wide range of fitness levels and abilities are welcome.