The secret to mindful travel? A walk in the woods

Visit these five destinations to practice the Japanese art of forest bathing.

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This small forest in Shaftesbury, England, is perfect for a meditative stroll—especially during bluebell season.

Whether you call it a fitness trend or a mindfulness practice (or a bit of both), what exactly is forest bathing? The term emerged in Japan in the 1980s as a physiological and psychological exercise called shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”). The purpose was twofold: to offer an eco-antidote to tech-boom burnout and to inspire residents to reconnect with and protect the country’s forests.

The Japanese quickly embraced this form of ecotherapy. In the 1990s, researchers began studying the physiological benefits of forest bathing, providing the science to support what we innately know: time spent immersed in nature is good for us. While Japanis credited with the term shinrin-yoku, the concept at the heart of the practice is not new. Many cultures have long recognized the importance of the natural world to human health.

Forest bathing is not just for the wilderness-lover; the practice can be as simple as walking in any natural environment and consciously connecting with what’s around you. For a more structured experience, you can join trained guides for a meditative two- to three-hour ecotherapy excursion. Here are five places to try forest bathing.

Forest bathers will find ample room to roam in the Adirondack Park. Stretching across more than six million acres of New York State and home to more than a hundred peaks and some 2,000 miles of hiking trails, it’s the largest protected area in the contiguous United States. Native evergreens are both aromatic and release...

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