Once you’ve decided on the time and location of your forest bath or decide to join a group journey into the forest, you’ve made a commitment to yourself and to Mother Earth. When you decide to forest bathe consciously and with intention, things will start jostling around and your life will begin to come into alignment before you even enter the forest. Changes may be so subtle that you don’t realize them, or they could be obvious or drastic.
How to Prepare for a Forest Bath
A forest bath is an inner journey to reacquaint us with our own wildness as much as it is an outer journey into the wild. When we connect to Nature, we are actually connecting with ourselves—the part that is so core to our being but at the same time so easily forgotten in the noise, stress, and distractions of modern life.
Prior to your visit, notice your dreams, feelings, fears, and any images that arise. Start a journal, and take some time to note what’s swirling around in your life—any serendipities and synchronicities, new people you encounter and advice they may offer. A journal can be more than just writing—you can draw or doodle as well.
Resist the temptation to talk with others about what’s coming up for you. Keep it to yourself and cultivate your own sacred container. Take time to meditate or sit in silence and listen to your heart. If you’re not in the practice of listening to your heart, you may simply put your hand over it and ask, “How are you, heart?” and wait patiently for an answer. Approach this in a way that feels true to you.
Take a stroll, and find just the right place to be or sit, in a safe place in nature. The transitional times of day are especially potent, during the liminal hours at dawn or dusk. Offer some birdseed, a song, or even a bouquet of flowers to Earth and ponder these questions as you sit:
Questions to Ask Before Your Forest Bath
- Why am I being called to commune with Earth in a deep and meaningful way at this time?
- How can I stay humble and open and grounded to receive the gifts of this experience?
Then, at some point on this walk, take a moment to share your commitment to Earth. For instance, you may state something like,
I commit to the joy of communing with Earth and to come into harmony with all of Nature. Hear me, Earth, I offer myself to you for these purposes.
See what comes for you. Feel Nature hear and support you. Finally, say thank you, share some more offerings, and do whatever else you want to feel complete before returning home.
How to Prepare for the Outward Journey
As you’re getting ready for your inner journey, you can prepare for your outer journey. Prepare your body before you go. Eat healthy foods, drink lots of water, and avoid alcohol. Take time to exercise, stretch, and nourish your body.
Gather up comfortable clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty. There’s no need to get decked out in the latest technical outdoor gear for a forest bath. Quite the contrary—it’s easiest to feel connected to Nature when your clothes are made from materials that come directly from the earth. Organic cotton, wool, hemp, and sustainably harvested leather are good options. Look for secondhand or vintage clothes as sustainable options that minimize your environmental impact. Bring layers if you think the weather may change: gather some extra hats and gloves to share and add a raincoat if rain is expected. Ponchos are great because they’re loose-fitting and can double as a blanket to spread out for sitting or napping on the forest floor.
Fill a small backpack with the following items:
- A first aid kit (know how to use it)
- A whistle to call out (you won’t be going that deep into the forest, but just in case you get disoriented)
- Water bottle and healthy, natural snacks
- A ground cloth to sit or lie on
- A journal and pen for musings and sketches
- Essential oils, such as eucalyptus (awakens the sense of smell and makes a natural bug repellent)
- Sunscreen and lip protection
- Cornmeal or birdseed for offerings
- Moccasins or soft-soled shoes for absorbing negative ions from the earth
- Extra layers and a raincoat
- A bandana
- A hat to protect from sun or cold
- A watch to keep time (so you don’t need to look at your phone)
- Musical instruments (such as a rattle, drum, or ukulele)
- A phone in case of emergency
Reprinted with permission from The Healing Magic of Forest Bathing by Julia Plevin, copyright © 2019. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.