Forest Bathing (“Shinrin Yoku”) is a delightful form of contemplative walking in a wooded area, gently connecting us to the natural world through actively engaging our senses. Sound, sight, smell, taste and touch can heighten our awareness of the intricacy of the life all around us. Intentionally paying attention-while walking slowly, ‘and pausing often- can help us notice so much more than walking to ‘get somewhere’.
The health benefits of forest bathing are numerous: Moving our muscles increases the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids, which helps decrease blood sugar and blood pressure. Our lymph system is primarily moved as muscles contract, and that helps rid us of waste products more quickly. Trees emit phytoncides, which are their way of fending off germs and insects…and, happily these aromatic oils stimulate our “natural killer cells”- which are lymphocytes able to bind to bacterial and virus-infected cells and tumor cells, and kill them! NK cells are unique: they have the ability to recognize stressed cells in the absence of antibodies, which allows for a much faster immune reaction.
Forest Bathing Walks & Deep Soak Hikes
Explore the paths and trails around Port Townsend and the Olympic National Forest with your guide Ellen, who will share nature poetry and a guided meditation along the way. Please leave your cell phones and furry companions behind. This is a time to be quiet, to sink into the natural silence of the woods with less of the usual distractions. Thank you in advance.
Forest Bathing Walks at Fort Worden and Old Fort Townsend State Parks:
Forest Bathing- Spring 2023
Fort Worden State Park Schedule:
- April 29: 10 AM – 11:30 AM Saturday
- May 27: 10 AM – 11:30 AM Saturday
Old Fort Townsend State Park Schedule:
- April 8: 10 AM – 11:30 AM Saturday
- May 20: 10 AM – 11:30 AM Saturday
Fort Worden State Park: Walk – Sit – Walk: We will meet and greet in front of the Nora Porter Commons Building, 210 Battery Way.
Old Fort Townsend State Park: Walk – Sit – Walk: We will meet and greet by the Parks fee station.
As we enter the ‘cathedral’ of the parks spaces we can walk comfortably and safely far apart without masks, or as you choose. Our walk follows paths linking the woods and meadows in the park. Several times we will pause, listen to a nature poem, and sit in silence- or, perhaps with a bit of guided meditation led by Ellen Falconer, mindfulness teacher. Please wear clothing which will keep you warm and dry, as we may be sitting or standing about in wet, chilly, invigorating weather.
Come with us for a “Deep Soak” in the forest: All Day Hikes on the Olympic Peninsula:
Our day-long hikes are selected to be on easy to moderate trails. Our focus is to take in ‘the atmosphere of the forest’ (shinrin-yoku), walking at a leisurely pace, in silence, pausing often to soak in the subtle and not-so-subtle activities around us. We each bring water and food, bug deterrent, sun screen, hiking sticks, something to write in, and whatever clothing you need. Bandaids for sore heels are a consideration as well. As registration fills and the day of the hike gets closer, we can arrange car-pooling to each trailhead. The forest service roads can be rough- anyone with a car with high clearance and/or all/4 wheel drive who wants to chauffeur hikers will be given cash from the passengers-this is a good way to get to know our fellow hikers before we enter the realm of companionable silence when the hike begins.
2023 Deep Soak Hikes: We may post a Spring Hike on the Gray Wolf River Trail or the Upper Dungeness River Trail in mid-May, depending on the snow pack and trail accessibility…stay tuned!
Please submit your information to register (required) for the forest hikes this summer. All hikers pay Olympic Peninsula Mindfulness $20 plus a donation to volunteer drivers when ride-sharing. Thank you!
If you wish to express your gratitude for our local forest and orchard baths, and as required for the day-long hikes, you can pay the guide in-person, by Venmo, or donate here, via PayPal.
Ellen recites “When I am Among the Trees” by Mary Oliver
Forest Bathing along the Upper Upper Dungeness River
“I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding”
– FLUENT, by John O’Donohue. Photo of the Lower Big Quilcene River.