A number of new and forthcoming books urge readers to reconnect with the natural world through the Japanese concept of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. “Forest bathing is a traditional Japanese practice of experiencing the healing effects of trees,” says St. Martin’s Essentials publisher Joel Fotinos. “This is done through various practices that allow you to engage with trees and nature in an intentional and meaningful way, to find more peace and joy within. I think these books have appeal right now because many of us feel that we live in a sometimes chaotic and confusing world, and returning to the powerful therapeutic effects of trees and nature allows us to feel more grounded, stable, and peaceful. Nature is like medicine for a troubled soul.”
St. Martin’s Essentials entry is Forest Bathing by Cyndi Gilbert (May 2019), an introduction to the ancient art. “Only relatively recently in evolutionary history have so many of us humans lived largely indoors—is it any wonder that our bodies, minds, and souls crave the outdoors?” Gilbert writes. She hopes the book will “draw you to the woods, remind you of the sensory experiences you encounter there, and encourage you to find your own wholeness and wildness among the trees.”
Forest Therapy: Seasonal Ways to Embrace Nature for a Happier You (Lifelong, Sept.), by journalist and certified life coach Sarah Ivens, urges readers to leave behind their screens and reconnect with nature through simple activities like taking a walk in the woods or bringing pieces of nature into their homes.
In Forest Bathing Retreat: Find Wholeness in the Company of Trees (Storey, Aug.), poet Hannah Fries collects inspirational writings from poets, naturalists, artists, scientists, and thinkers across cultures and centuries, adding in her own reflections. She also summarizes recent scientific research affirming the physical and emotional benefits of time spent among trees, whether in a city park or a nature preserve. Fries offers guided mindfulness exercises as well as photography. Fries’s debut book of poetry, Little Terrarium, was published in 2016 by Hedgerow Books.
Finally, although not exclusively focused on shinrin-yoku, A Little Book of Japanese Contentments by Erin Niimi Longhurst (Chronicle, Aug.), with illustrations by Ryo Takemasa, touches on that tradition, along with other Japanese concepts and practices to create well-being: ikigai (living with purpose), wabi-sabi (the beauty of imperfection and impermanence), ikebana (the art of flower arranging), kokoro (heart and mind), and karada (body).