I grew up on a hilly 86-acre farm, surrounded by woods. My mom liked to identify wildflowers; my dad knew all the trees; and so I always paid attention to nature too. I have a distinct memory of taking a walk in the woods when I was feeling stressed in high school, Granny Smith apple in hand, and relishing its grass-like crunch as I sat quietly at the very top of the ridge and soaked in the calm.
All this to say: I believe in the rejuvenating power of the forest, of even just being outside. Studies show that spending time in green space has lots of potential health benefits, and some doctors are actually now prescribing time outside instead of medicine.
But when I read that "forest bathing" is the latest fitness trend in the U.S.--that people in California are actually paying to be taken on calming hikes in the woods . . . well. Cue eye roll here.
Why must we import a Japanese philosophy in order to appreciate something beautiful and wonderful that has always existed? This is not new and revolutionary. This is nature. Yes, it's dirty. (I mention this for folks like my grandfather, who once asked me if I liked "that rough stuff.") But it's also constantly changing and magical, and by god, free.
Know what the best part is? This is medicine you can prescribe yourself. You don't need to pay money or take a class or have someone else guide you through it. You can just walk out and soak it all in; no training or prior experience necessary.
Let's just not call it forest bathing, ok?