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Try Forest Bathing, the New Meditation

By Andrew Richdale


From the January/February 2016 issue

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Hug a tree—it's better than Xanax

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The latest feel-good cure requires a trip to the woods.

“Forest bathing,” as it’s called, is a way of hiking that’s scientifically proven to kick stress. Immunologists in Japan have found the practice can nearly double your production of some sickness-fighting cells.

So what separates a “bath” from a hike? Book a tour with an expert at Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm to learn the ins and outs, but the main difference is this: Forest bathing focuses your senses on trees the way meditation focuses on breath. Gaze at towering elms as if you have all day. Feel the leaves beneath your feet and hear them crunch. Inhale deeply; studies say the aromas in the forest contain phytoncides, chemicals that lower stress hormones. We’re not saying you have to hug a giant sycamore—as long as you reach a state of total awe, you’ll get the point.

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