A Mystical Practice to Heal Ourselves and the Planet

Salomé Gómez-Upegui
4 min readApr 10, 2019
Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

Recall for a moment the last deep breath you took while surrounded by trees; how most likely you felt an incomparable boost of energy, and perhaps even an immediate sense of restoration. This act of consciously being in and with nature is what the millenary Japanese tradition of Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing entails: just being.

Mindful Feminism spoke to Julia Plevin, a woman who has made it her life’s purpose to expand the reach of this practice. She’s the founder of Forest Bathing Club and author of the recently published book “The Healing Magic of Forest Bathing.” Read below for an intriguing conversation on this powerful path to heal ourselves and the planet.

MF: How do you define forest bathing?

JP: I define forest bathing as an intentional practice of going to nature to heal. I see it as a mindfulness practice. Often when we go outside we hike, we’re with friends, we spend a lot of time moving through nature, but not actually slowing down, connecting, and being present. Forest bathing is about waking up to the present moment, awakening your senses, and getting out of your head and more into your animal body.

How did you personally connect with this practice?

I always loved being in nature, I never really thought that much about it. I just loved being outside. I’m an avid trail runner, surfer, climber all of that, but it wasn’t until I was living in New York City and going to design school that I realized the effect the lack of nature was having on my mental health. I began to have a lot of anxiety and stress. So I decided to do my graduate thesis on the mental health effects of being disconnected from nature. It began as an academic pursuit, and as I went deeper I started to see that my decades worth of chronic illness came from that disconnection –the work quickly became very personal. As a designer I was seeing the problem and thinking about solutions, I thought ‘How do we heal this? And the answer was always “reconnect with nature,” which began a quest of giving meaning to that idea.

Who should practice forest bathing?

Everyone can benefit from it, especially people who live in cities, work in offices, and anyone who is going through a transition in life or dealing with a…