RICHARD COLLINS OF THE FRIENDLY TERRITORY

A lot of people get confused when they hear the term “forest bathing.” No, it’s not about taking a bath in the woods. The Japanese concept of “shinrin-yoku” means immersing yourself in the forest and soaking in the atmosphere through the senses.

You’ll look around at your environment, listen for birds, feel the wind on your face, smell the scents of the woods and typically taste tea that your group instructor brings. You’ll talk about what you see, hear and feel with the other group members.

“Forest bathing is a wellness practice that takes a holistic view to the physiological, mental, emotional and psycho-spiritual benefits to be realized through a heightened state of presence that is known as embodiment,” says Richard Collins, a certified nature and forest therapy guide with The Friendly Territory.

A short outdoor walk combines a guided meditation aimed at quieting the intellect with a series of “invitations” that allow participants to explore nature through the senses, without the normal chatter in the head, Collins explains. Or a longer, usually 2.5-hour walk is slower and more meditative, with a wide variety of stress and anxiety-lowering outcomes and, quite often, deep personal insights.

Studies have shown many health benefits associated with a slow walk through nature, especially in the cardiovascular and immune systems, and for stabilizing and improving mood and cognition, according to The Friendly Territory in Morristown.

RICHARD COLLINS OF THE FRIENDLY TERRITORY

It’s a few hours of relaxation and rejuvenation that will encourage you to meditate while enjoying nature. Remember to dress in layers to be comfortable, apply sunscreen and bug/tick spray and bring water with you.

Some sites you can check for forest bathing events, or to go on your own, are the The New Weis Center for Education, Arts & Recreation in Ringwood, Forest Resource Education Center in Jackson, the Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center in Far Hills (Chester Twp.), The New Weis Center for Education, Arts & Recreation in Ringwood and The Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit.

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