However this book got to you, the fact that you’re reading it now means that you’re ready to embark on your own journey of reconnection. There’s no more time to waste and no room for excuses. Now is the time to begin. This book is about what forest bathing is, how it came to be, and why we all need it now more than ever. Your journey starts whenyou step into the forest. You’re invited.
My intention in writing this book is to open the door to the world of interbeing—the essential connectedness of the Universe—and then get out of your way. I’m here to witness your journey and walk alongside you. Your story will be different from my story: we each get to have our own perfectly designed experience. Yours is waiting for you.
As you read, you’ll learn about the forest bathing journey. The sec- tions of this book mirror the structure of a forest bath, from preparing for the journey in the beginning to integrating the elixir of the forest into your life at the end. You’ll learn different rituals and invitations to practice during a forest bath. You’ll be able to choose invitations that work for whatever location you’re in—even at your desk.
But the real magic happens when you take a walk in the forest. Although you may intellectually understand the forest bathing process, experiencing it physically will change your life. Writing and reading are very mental activities, and forest bathing is meant to get us out of our heads. So if at any time you want to put down this book and take a walk outside, I will be very happy! When you take your journey into your own hands, you become free.
Nature connection is a very personal matter. I’ve done my best to provide some structure for a practice of forest bathing while giving you space to fill it in with your own experiences and ways that are informed by who you are, what you believe, where you live, and the cultural norms you grew up with. This practice is your birthright, no matter what.
Throughout the book, you will find that the words “Nature,” “Earth,” and “Universe” are used somewhat interchangeably. I do this because in Western culture, there’s no single word to describe the “more-than-human” world. It’s my attempt to bring attention to the mystery of existence. Many cultures share an understanding of Earth as a feminine force as well as the planet we call home. Referred to as Gaia, Shakti, Mother Earth, or Pachamama, Earth is definitely feminine. She is us and we are her. If this seems problematic or cosmically strange to you, buckle up for a wild ride!
Forest bathing is a process of rewilding, simultaneously the most natural and the hardest thing. It’s a stomping out of all our learned behaviors so we can reacquaint with our true selves and, with that, the web that comprises every living thing. Everywhere, forests are vying for our attention. They desire to be seen and noticed and will do everything in their power to get us to slow down and wake up to life. Forests and trees call to all of us; they need our help as much as we need theirs. We can save one another. That longing in your heart to go to the forest is real.
You may start with a trip to a forest, but true forest bathing extends into rituals and practices that you will eventually incorporate into your everyday life. A forest bath is not a “one and done” kind of experience. And there’s no right or wrong way to forest bathe; it’s a personal experience in which each of us finds what works best.
Begin with the intention of reconnecting to Nature and the realiza- tion that you’re separated from the source; the life you desire for yourself is on the other side of the separation. In the process, you’ll relearn some of the basic tenets of being a human—like how to walk, how to breathe, how to open your heart, and how to be truly present.
No two forest baths are the same. When you go into the forest, you may get the forest bath you need instead of the one you want. Forest bathing involves no specific time requirements. On some days, you may have time to spend a few hours immersed in nature. Other days, you may only have a few sacred moments to connect. You can forest bathe time and again, and each visit will be different. There are infinite activations and ways to connect—you’ll discover what works best for you. Trust that the forest is working alongside you to design
the perfect experience.
Copyright © 2019 by Julia Plevin. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.