S2, E2: Happy New(ish) Year! Now Go Hug a Tree

In this week’s episode of Unpacked by AFAR, we lace up our boots and enter the wide, wide world of forest bathing.

Have you ever hugged a tree? If not, this episode of Unpacked by AFAR might inspire you to. Aislyn Greene, associate director of podcasts, talks with forest-bathing guide Ben Page about our tall, leafy friends: Why trees are so good for us, where to forest bathe in the United States, and how to bring the forest-bathing mindset wherever you go.

Topics discussed

  • 4:37: Meet Ben Page
  • 8:23: Origins of forest bathing in Japan
  • 12:48: How forest bathing works
  • 32:07: Advice for skeptics and first-timers
  • 39:29: One minute meditation


[Clip of forest bathing]

Yep, that’s the sound of a group of people about to go hug trees. And whatever your internal reaction (ugh, interesting, yessss), let me tell you that I have experienced all of them. So maybe . . . keep an open mind.

I’m Aislyn Greene, associate director of podcasts here at AFAR, and this is Unpacked, the podcast that unpacks one tricky topic in travel every week. And this week, we’re gonna get up close and personal with some trees.

Before the experience you just heard, I’d tried forest-bathing once and just felt . . . wet and cold. I like to hike and spend time in nature, sure, but I hadn’t quite wrapped my head about the meditation aspect of it. And then in September 2022, I visited Mountain Trek, a fitness retreat and health spa in the Kootenay Mountains, near Nelson, British Columbia. The weeklong experience was refreshing, reinvigorating, and yes, very tree-filled. Towards the end of the week, they invited us to join a forest-bathing journey. And in the interest of . . . journalism, I decided to give it another shot. And I’m so glad I did.

Through these things called invitations—which we’ll learn more about in a bit—I felt cracked open to the nature around me. Like, do you remember what summer felt like as a kid? Maybe you were lying on your back in the warm grass looking up at the sky and feeling totally alive, at peace, and like time was limitless? This particular forest-bathing journey was like getting a shot of that: intoxicating, surprising, delightful. And while I didn’t hug a tree, I did have a rather profound connection with one.

When I came home, I craved more! I had started to notice that my pandemic connection with nature had started to wane. Like many people, during the pandemic my relationship with trees, with nature, expanded. We had time, and the desire to escape the dreary drama unfolding inside our homes. And so we went outdoors, whether to our backyard, a local park, a hiking trail. And it meant something, right?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted to be spending less time with trees and more time on planes and with people. But I don’t want to lose the more frequent connection. And I suspect that may be true for many people.

So I reached out to Ben Page, a certified forest-bathing guide, to learn about how and where to forest bathe, why trees are so good for us, and how we can use forest-bathing to deepen our connections with the places we visit.

Ben is an author and owner of Integral Forest Bathing who lives in Los Angeles, where he leads forest-bathing walks inspired by the Japanese health and wellness practice shinrin yoku. He was one of the first Americans to be certified in forest bathing by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy and now trains other guides. He’s also the author of the new book, Healing Trees: Your Pocket Guide to Forest Bathing. Welcome, Ben!

Aislyn Greene: Ben, thank you so much for being with us today. Welcome to Unpacked.

Ben Page: Thank you.

Aislyn: Are you in or near a forest right now by any chance?

Ben: Well, I live in a part of Los Angeles that still has land on it that is essentially ecologically as it was hundreds of years ago, more or less. One of the things that I was up to during the pandemic was I downloaded this app that you can point your camera at the different plants and it helps you identify them.

And I suddenly realized that I was living with plants from basically every continent. And the amount of diversity here is just kind of stunning. So, yeah, I’m near both old forest and new forest.

Aislyn: That’s so cool. It’s such a different perspective on Los Angeles. I’d just love to start at the beginning for those who aren’t familiar, what is forest bathing or shinrin yoku.

Ben: I don’t speak Japanese, so it’s not going to sound perfect, but my Japanese friends have tried to teach me how to say this, and it sounds something like shinrin yoku. Shinrin means forest and yoku means bath. And I’ll tell you a little more about where that term came from in its Japanese origins.

But basically, forest bathing is just about relaxing and slowing down and getting out of our heads by getting into our bodies. Part of our modern condition is that we think all the time; we’re just constantly processing such an unbelievable amount of information, maybe more information than we’re really evolved to cognitively handle.

And so we have this kind of modern mental health crisis about stress and anxiety and hyper attention. And a lot of folks, basically they say, I don’t know how to stop thinking. I don’t know how to get out of my head. And so we understand neurologically now that it’s actually not possible to stop thinking.

So what forest bathing does is it helps us reorient our attention from our thoughts into the sensations of our body. It’s really about a deep sensory attention coupled with a deep sense of relaxation. And I think when you combine these two qualities, we can kind of leave ourselves behind for a few hours.

When we’re forest bathing, we’re relating on a physical sensory level.

And you don’t really need to think to experience, say the texture of bark or the color of leaves or the smell of flowers. These are phenomenon that really don’t require us to have a self and they don’t require any level of analysis; we can just appreciate these phenomenon, these sensations, without having to go any deeper into what does it mean, why does it smell this way?

One of the things I like to tell people is forest bathing is actually about experiencing yourself as nature, just being nature. And on some level, I think this is what makes it feel relaxing, cuz there’s no objective point to it. There’s no destination psychologically or spiritually or physically that we’re trying to get to. We’re just being here. We’re just being alive and in our bodies. And I think there’s something just incredibly joyous about that.

Aislyn: I feel like that’s a good opportunity to kind of rewind a little bit. I was hoping you could speak a bit to kind of the origin of forest bathing. It was born in Japan as kind of a more organized activity, right?

Ben: I like to preface telling this story by saying that as I speak to more colleagues in Japan, there isn’t necessarily just one story about the origin of this work. There are many stories, and I’ll tell you one that that was told to me originally and I think still makes a lot of sense.

So in the 1980s, the Japanese were going through kind of twin crises. The first was an economic shift that essentially in the ‘80s the Japanese were going through a massive tech boom and people were working a lot more. And one of the impacts of that shift in the economy. was a mass migration of people from the rural prefectures into the city centers. So a mass urbanization of people.

So when you take the health impact of living in a city, coupled with the stress culture of working in very poor conditions for 16, 18 hours a day, all of a sudden there was this massive health crisis and the Japanese noticed this huge spike in cancer and autoimmune disease.

And they said, OK, the first problem we have to solve is this public health crisis. So they set out all their kind of top level agencies find solutions to this problem. And what they called shinrin yoku was a project by the Japanese Department of Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. And essentially their research question was, what is the impact of exposing human beings to forest environments?

And they took a very kind of research-oriented approach to this. And one of the things they found is that trees, being around trees boosts our immune system. Basically, the way this works is that trees release these chemicals called phytoncides. “Phyton” meaningplant” and “cide,” meaning “killer.” Phytoncides are antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal chemicals.

So if a tree feels a fungus, for instance, attacking it, it can diffuse these phytoncides into the air around it, and they find the fungus and they kill it, thus preserving the health of the tree. So I like to tell people, you can think of phytoncides like the tree’s immune system. Now what’s really fascinating is that because humans spent thousands and thousands of years evolving under trees, we’ve co-evolved this connection where when humans absorb phytoncides either through respiration or simply through the skin, it triggers the production of a special white blood cell called a natural killer or NK cell.

NK cells are part of your innate immune system, which means they’re not looking for specific diseases, they’re looking for stressed cells in your body that could turn into cancer cells, and they terminate those cells preventatively. So the Japanese said, wow, this is incredible. It’s not necessarily a cure for cancer, but a powerful adjunctive and preventative treatment. Now, I alluded earlier to there being two crises. So the first one was this public health crisis, and the second one was an economic crisis because as all the young people went to the cities to work, it left the economy of the rural prefectures with almost nothing.

And so part of the project with the government and shinrin yoku was establishing what they called forest therapy roads, or forest therapy bases, which were essentially like little micro economies in the rural prefectures where they had lots of forest and building basically rail connections from the city to those places.

And so now people from the city can essentially take a day trip or even just a weekend and they can go out. And that creates a little microeconomy in the rural prefecture that’s also ameliorating the health crisis.

Aislyn: It sounds like a brilliant solution. So what would a forest-bathing experience look like?

Ben: Forest bathing is kind of an umbrella term at this point. There’s a great diversity of practices that are under that umbrella just in Japan alone. And then as the practice spread around the world, many other people started saying, how do we adapt this to a cultural context outside of Japan?

And my training was with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy. So I can tell you a little bit about the practice that we teach through that organization. When I do a guided walk, at the beginning, it’s just a practice of hospitality, welcoming people, giving them just a little bit of information about where they are and what the history of the land is, who the Indigenous people of the land were. And that sets us up for a series of what we call invitations.

As part of the introduction, I like to make it really clear that my favorite thing about forest bathing is you can’t do it wrong. And you actually can’t be good at it or bad at it. You can just do it. An invitation is just to say, here’s a pathway to connect with nature, but you don’t have to do it the way that I’m inviting you to do it. You can do it however you want to do it, and I’m gonna hold this space for you to explore that in a self-directed way. So the first invitation, we don’t call it a sensory meditation cuz as soon as you say the word meditation, a lot of Westerners have a lot of projection about what that means and what that’s supposed to be like, what that’s supposed to look like. We just call it the “pleasures of presence.”

And essentially that’s a guided series of prompts just inviting you to deepen into your awareness of your senses and your body. This is an interesting process cuz our bodies are very sensitive. The original meaning of the word meant that your body was highly tuned to stimulus coming from nature, that you could hear really well, that you could see really well, that you could taste and smell and you could feel your bones and your muscles and your spatial relationship.

Our bodies are equipped with all this unbelievable technology that essentially we’ve outsourced to machines at this point. We don’t really need our bodies to be so sensitive anymore. And when you’re thinking all the time, your attention is on your mind.

And so you don’t feel as much, you don’t see as much or smell as much, or taste as much. All of your senses are numbed because you’re not putting your attention on them. So when we place our attention very intentionally on the body and on the senses, it awakens people’s realization that, oh wow, I’m in this very powerful body that can really sense some unbelievably subtle things that maybe I haven’t noticed in years. Some people say I haven’t noticed that much since childhood.

So that first step is really critical about just getting people into their bodies. The second invitation is essentially a slow walk. Where we just observe what is moving around us. We call this “what’s in motion.” And what’s in motion has two functions.

One is to physically slow people down because in addition to constantly thinking, we tend to also be constantly rushing from one thing to another. Our relationship with time is very distorted because we’re trying to maximize every moment of our lives. So the first part of what’s in motion, it’s just getting people to slow down.

And the second part of it is getting people to pay attention to the world around them, to see that there is an animate living world all around them. And it’s interesting because people will sometimes say at the beginning, they’ll say, well, it doesn’t look like anything’s moving at all. And I’ll just say, look closer. And when you start really slowing down enough to look closely, you notice that almost everything is moving.

But we tend to think that the world is static around us because we’re moving too quickly to actually notice it.

So then we have a series of invitations after that that are kind of dealer’s choice. The guide picks these invitations working in relationship with the space that they find themselves in. So if, let’s say, there’s a whole bunch of oak trees, there might be an invitation to connect with these oak trees through our senses, or if there’s water, maybe an invitation with the water. And then finally we conclude with serving tea from the forest.

So part of the training is the ability to identify safely and forage safely some plant material that can be made into tea, and then we share the tea and we drink it. And this is in some ways my favorite part of the walk cuz there’s something really almost dreamlike or surreal about a group of relaxed human beings just sitting in the forest and drinking tea together and just nowhere to go, nothing to do, just that perfect state of relaxation.

And the end is this moment for reflecting what can you harvest from this experience? What can you take back and incorporate into your life? And that’s the thing I think is really important from a practice perspective. It’s one thing to have an experience, but to have the experience actually change you in some way, that’s the really powerful thing. And to take that home with you. I think there’s this thing about the pandemic where a lot of people glimpsed this new relationship with nature and a new relationship with time. But they failed to really incorporate that because incorporation takes a certain level of intention.

Aislyn: Yeah, I love that. You mentioned the pandemic and how that has affected people, and I was just curious what it was like for you during that time?

Ben: One thing that was interesting was that I guide public walks at the Los Angeles Arboretum and when the pandemic happened, basically forest bathing was the only class that didn’t get completely canceled indefinitely. It was wildly popular during the pandemic. People were really grateful for it, and it was fantastic. And I mean, it’s still very popular, even now that we’re gradually exiting this pandemic phase of our existence. But on kind of a more personal level, I think a lot of people started noticing where they live.

I know I did. I spent a ton of time in my garden. Funny being an a forest therapy guide and to say this, but you know, I was one of those people that if I wanted to go to nature, I would go to the National Forest or the arboretum, you know. I’d go somewhere else. And the plants that live with me were just kind of here.

I didn’t really pay attention to them. And so during the pandemic, I really became deeply acquainted with the beings who live where I live. And I think a lot of people had that experience without the pressure of rushing around, all of a sudden it just became very easy to actually notice the world around you. This is maybe a little more philosophical, but did you ever read that story about Sinbad the sailor, and there’s Sinbad and the whale? Most people have probably heard at least the simplified version of the story, which is that Sinbad is on the boat with his crew and they find this beautiful island and they get off the boat to have some lunch and enjoy themselves. And they build a fire on the island and it wakes up the island.

All of a sudden everyone realizes that this is not an island, that this is actually a sleeping whale. And they’ve woken the whale up and the whale descends into the ocean and basically everyone dies except for Sinbad. He escapes to have more adventures. But I think metaphorically the pandemic kind of woke us up to realizing that the Earth is not a setting for our human stories. It’s actually a living, animate organism. I don’t know if that perception really lasted, but I think it humbled us a little bit. it kind of helped us say, oh, we’re not necessarily the center of this story.

Aislyn: Absolutely. I remember that time and I think you’re right. I don’t know how much we’ve held onto that and maybe it’s just a subtle undercurrent that runs through people’s lives now. But it feels like an important moment to be talking about how we try to hold on to the lessons of the pandemic or those connections with nature now, as the world is getting busier and busier again.

Ben: One thing about nature that people sometimes overlook, is that nature is not just physical. It also has a temporal quality. Time, for nature, is cyclical. It’s not progressive or linear.

It moves in these circles. and one of the easiest ones for us to understand is the cycle of night and day and the cycle of the seasons. And in both of these we have a period of rest that punctuates a period of productivity. And so the rest and the productivity are held in balance with each other. But we, and I guess I say we, I don’t know if, I mean, you know, global culture or particularly Western United States culture, we have this infinite growth mindset, grind culture.

And it’s like all the time can’t be work, it relies on this circular rhythm. And in some ways I think the pandemic kind of helped us reset, but as the world speeds up again it’s very easy for people to get sucked back into that rhythm, which is then why people come on a forest-bathing walk. Cuz they say, wow, it’s really hard to rest. It’s really hard to slow down and make time to not be doing things and to just have time for the quality, the phenomenon of being.

[ad break]

Aislyn: And we’re back with Ben Page. Ben, relatively recently, you wrote a book called Healing Tree: Your Pocket Guide Forest Bathing.

In it, you spoke to realization that you are nature, that as long as “I could learn to be right here, right now, connected to my body and connected to my senses. I could be forest bathing anywhere, anytime.” And I thought that was quite profound because we do, I associate forest bathing with, lots of trees and green and so the idea that you can be it or embody it anywhere is really, I think could be quite transformational.

Ben: Part of that was a pandemic commentary cuz I couldn’t go necessarily to the places that I used to go to do forest bathing. And you know, they say, necessity is the mother of invention. I needed forest bathe somehow, and then just came to me. But on a deeper level, I suppose this is really about deconstructing an idea of separateness between what we call nature and what we call human civilization.

I started looking around and saying, well, when you take everything apart, it’s all the Earth. You look at skyscrapers and jet planes and cell phones and you say, well, what is this? Oh, it’s all rocks. It’s all minerals. It’s all the compounds of the Earth. The Earth has yielded everything in our civilization, including our bodies. I think that’s also a trippy realization when you start confronting this idea of human exceptionalism.

We’re all sharing this web of inner being, or the word I like to use is enmeshment. We’re actually enmeshed in this world. An easy example is breath. You’re sitting under the tree, you’re absorbing the oxygen and exhaling the carbon dioxide and the tree is cycling that right back. And in this one action, somehow you’re sharing existence. And so the world ceases to be a setting anymore. Ultimately, you can hold an awareness of this enmeshment anywhere you want.

I’ve led forest bathing walks in downtown L.A., downtown Houston. I’ve done this in Boston. I’ve done this in very urban areas and it’s funny cuz, it’s like we just forget that the world is alive all around us. It’s not separated neatly into natural spaces and human spaces.

Aislyn: That’s a great point. So how do those more urban walks differ from a deeper forest walk?

Ben: They don’t really differ that much except for the attitude with which people arrive. I did a walk once in Houston at an urban farm. I arrived there and I had a little bit of trepidation cuz there’s helicopters, there’s ambulances, there’s people walking around on the street, there’s music coming out of car stereos.

There’s all this, what we might consider human distraction. But the people that showed up to that walk came with this incredible attitude about, this is my home. I want to connect with the reality of this place, not an abstract wish of what it could be. We tend to have a very conditional love for nature. We love it when it looks like the south coast of Maui or the Mediterranean coast of Italy. People have this projection about what it should be. And part of my journey with forest bathing is really asking this very critical question of myself, of how can I cultivate an unconditional love for all places? There’s a Zen capping phrase that talks about every place is a place of honor.

There aren’t some special places and some not special places. The world is here right now, right in the middle of downtown L.A. So if you can wake up your senses, wake up your ability to just be here, we can connect with the world anywhere.

Aislyn: I know you just said that every place is special, but because this is a travel podcast, I do want to ask about some of your more memorable moments, especially in the U.S.

Ben: That’s a hard question. Every moment has its beauty. But that’s a horrible answer to your question. I really love the desert, personally. I love going out to Joshua Tree and just experiencing the silence.

The sound of silence in the desert is so incredible. Then it just gets punctuated by the sound of the wind. The colors of the sky in the desert, also just fabulous. I grew up in New England, so I also have a deep affinity for the forests and the mountains. I did my undergrad in Minnesota, so the Great Lakes and the plains.

I don’t know, I just love it all. Like Hawai‘i, Europe, New Zealand, Asia. I’ve done this work all over the place and every place is a place of honor.

Aislyn: How familiar with a place do you think you have to be? Or is it beneficial to have a bit of an outsider’s mind?

Ben: That’s a very interesting question. I wouldn’t say it’s one or the other, it’s that they’re different. There are some trails here in the Angeles National Forest that I’ve walked in every season many, many times. And so I have a certain intimacy with those places. I know them and they know me.

We have that kind of relationship and I know there are certain flowers that only come out in certain places, and I know when the fruit is going to come, and I know when the animals are going to come and when they’re gonna go. And that’s amazing. I hope everyone can find something like that.

If you just go walk the same trail every day for a year, you’ll start to develop that kind of relationship. And then I agree with you completely that having no relationship at all opens up a sense of wonder.

When I go to Costa Rica or New Zealand or Norway, it’s like being on another planet almost. When you know how to pay attention, you see everything and you say, what is this? Who are you? So that’s harder and harder the more familiar you are with a place.

Aislyn: Absolutely. I was also curious about advice that you would offer to either first-timers or skeptics. For people who feel like this is outside of their comfort zone, what advice would you give to them?

Ben: Well, to first-timers, I just like to say, there’s no way to be good or bad at this. There’s no gold stars. There’s no A-pluses. It’s honestly one of my favorite things about the work. Forest bathing is one of those things that you can’t not succeed. You’re doing it in every moment, no matter what you’re doing. I always tell people on my walks before we start, I say for the next two hours, for the next three hours, whatever you’re doing, that’s gonna be forest bathing. Cuz that’s the gateway to this sense of relaxation is that you can’t be relaxed if you’re striving to be good at it or trying to do it right, you don’t need to. You just need to come. Just need to be here. So first-timers, I just tell them, just relax. And skeptics. I mean, I get that this isn’t for everyone.

I don’t want people to come if, if they are, like, oh, I, I don’t think I’m gonna like this. But if you are skeptical and you do want to come, then really, I guess it’s just to open your heart.

One of the phrases I like to train people with is you can’t open a rose with a crowbar. So I can’t force you to have an, experience that opens your heart, but I can create the space for it to happen. And you might be surprised. There was one guy I took on a walk, this was very early in my career, and he was very Type A.

He was like a corporate executive type of guy. And in between invitations, we paused to check in with each other. And I just asked people, what are you noticing right now? And in between every invitation he would say something like, this is really stupid. I don’t know why I came, I’m bored, whatever.

Part of my training is just to hold space for people to have whatever emotional, intellectual, phenomenological experience they’re having without judgment. And so I would just say, OK, thank you for sharing. On the very last invitation, he came back and he shared with the group.

He said, you know, I was sitting there thinking about how stupid this was. And then I noticed there was this river of ants climbing the tree. And so I looked at the ants and I thought to myself, these ants are incredibly disorganized. If I was in charge of these ants, I would make it more efficient.

And then he said, and then I heard myself saying that to myself and said, that is crazy. Why am I like that? Why do I need to make everything more efficient? Why do I think I know better than the ants? And it was really fascinating because it wasn’t that I pushed him, it just took three hours for him to get to a place where he could be open to that experience.

Aislyn: Yeah. And it’s pretty remarkable that he became open by the end.

Ben: I think people open up when they don’t feel like you’re judging them. All of a sudden you relax into just being in the experience when there’s no risk of like, are people gonna think I’m dumb? Are people gonna think I’m not getting this?

Eventually people just soften up into the experience. We always talk about this in training. The motto of the association is “The forest is the therapist. The guide opens the doors.” So the forest has its ways of quote, speaking to people.

if you just watch leaves fall for 20 minutes and you’re really intentional about focusing on watching them, there’s no room for the thinking anymore. Your brain’s still having thoughts. Like I said, you can’t make it turn off. But when you turn your attention towards the world and really focus on the aesthetics, the thoughts kind of start melting away and then all of a sudden you find yourself in what the ancients called presence.

Aislyn: What are the mental health benefits of this?

Ben: Part of it is stress reduction. This overlaps a lot with kind of the contemporary Western research on mindfulness practice. Then there’s this thing about the attention. This is really the thing that speaks to me on a personal level, but I also think at a wider cultural level, this is what we’re talking about, which is attention restoration.

That essentially your brain is not designed to be paying attention all the time. We’re not evolved for a high-tech society and we have these things in our pockets that are so sophisticated and well designed to capture our attention and it’s incredibly addictive.

Essentially what happens is your ability to pay attention starts to decline and you need to rest your mind. Your mind can’t keep going at this sharp level of attention all the time without you having some mental health problems.

So there’s some research by the Kaplans, they write on attention restoration theory. And one of their hypotheses about why nature is so good at attention restoration is that it’s filled with what they like to call “soft fascinations.”

Soft fascinations are phenomenon that require no analysis to experience. We touched on this earlier that basically to notice the color green doesn’t require a hard attention. It requires a very soft attention because basically your body is doing the attention. Your brain isn’t processing any analysis of the information. We tend to be analyzing everything constantly, including ourselves. We’re very rarely giving ourselves permission to just relax our minds. And I think we can get stuck in this rut of like, I don’t know how to stop analyzing.

This is where anxiety, stress, rumination all kind of come from this inability to stop. The big mental health benefit is that the process of forest bathing encourages us very gently to arrive at a place where we’re not analyzing anymore, we’re simply experiencing. You don’t need to think so hard about feeling the wind on your skin, you just feel it. You don’t need to think so much about seeing the blue sky. You just see it. And if you give yourself that space to focus your attention softly on the world around you, then it builds up your capacity to be attentive.

Aislyn: If we were to invite anyone who’s listening to just stop and in this moment to take, say, one minute to observe where they are and what they’re seeing and feeling, how would you invite them to practice this right now in this very moment?

Ben: Let’s see, one minute, one quick thing. You could close your eyes and just . . . listen.

Aislyn: It’s funny how much you tune out, right?

Ben: Yeah. It’s crazy. The brain has evolved to be incredibly energy efficient. And so if the brain doesn’t determine that the details of the world around you are important enough for your survival, it’s like our bodies absorb all the information, but then what actually makes it to our perception is gate kept by the brain.

You can try this at home, go for a walk in the woods with a friend and talk to each other for five minutes. As you’re walking now, your brain’s gonna notice if there are roots you have to step over or there’s poison ivy you should avoid or whatever. You know it’s gonna see some of that stuff, but then it’s not showing you the whole picture.

If you and your friend walk by yourselves for five minutes and just focus on your eyes, on what you can see, all of a sudden you’re gonna see a lot more. And it’s because when you’re talking to each other, your brain is filtering out most of the sensory information that your body is absorbing.

But when you place your attention on the sensory body, you have full access to the depth of your ability. It’s incredible.

Aislyn: Well, thank you so much. Is there anything else that you would like to add about either your work or your book?

Ben: I mean, of course I’d love it if people buy my book but if you aren’t gonna read the book, that’s OK. And the TLDR of my book is: Go outside, slow down. Don’t forget to smell things.

Aislyn: That’s great. And also buy the book.

Ben: And also by the book. And just pay attention. That’s really all it is.

Aislyn: Well, thank you so much for sharing your time and your thoughts with us today.

Ben: Of course. My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

If you want to learn more about Ben and his work, visit integralforestbathing.com. We’ll link to his book and website in the show notes.

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This has been Unpacked, a production of AFAR Media. The podcast is produced by Aislyn Greene and Nikki Galteland. Music composition by Chris Colin.

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