ROCKPORT — If you are willing to step out of your comfort zone to become one with nature, then forest bathing may be for you.
Forest bathing, which is also known as forest therapy, requires getting out into the forest and soaking up all you can at a snail’s pace.
For an opportunity to experience forest bathing, plan on venturing out to Rockport State Park from 1 to 4 p.m. on April 21, rain or shine.
There is no charge to participate, however, a Discover Pass is required to park.
Forest bathing is a translation of the Japanese term “shinrin-yoku,” which boasts that there are health benefits to those who spend time in the outdoors.
Those looking to marinate in the great outdoors at Rockport State Park will do so under the watchful eye of Michael Stein-Ross, founder and guide of Seattle-based Cascadia Forest Therapy.
“We’ll start with a short, 15-minute overview of the experience,” Stein-Ross said. “Then we’ll go out. It’s about mindfulness in the forest.
“As a guide, it’s my responsibility to help people open up, slow down and become more open to the messaging, the information provided by the outdoors. It’s a very therapeutic activity. My focus as a forest therapy guide is to help individuals slow down and focus, to help rediscover what our ancestors enjoyed.”
Stein-Ross has never been to Rockport State Park. But he’ll arrive early April 21 to familiarize himself with the surroundings and begin the bathing process.
“Rockport is a gem,” he said. “It’s going to be a great place for this and I am looking forward to experiencing it and sharing that experience.”
In order to improve the experience, Stein-Ross said he’ll offer “a series of evolving invitations.”
“Those invitations will involve the five senses and beyond,” he said. “There is no end destination. There isn’t a lake. It’s about moving slowing and being in the present.”
Rockport State Park Interpretive Specialist Amos Almy said the park is perfect for this type of activity.
“This practice has been studied quite a bit in Japan and is becoming more popular in the United States,” he said. “I thought the old-growth forest at Rockport State Park would be a perfect place, so I connected with Michael Stein-Ross to set up a workshop on Earth Day weekend.”
This past winter, Almy had scheduled Stein-Ross to speak at the park. However, Stein-Ross had to cancel.
Undeterred, the pair decided to take it a step further and plan an actual event.
“This is just the perfect spot for forest therapy,” Almy said. “People seek out settings like this because of its natural beauty. The smells, the touch, the sounds all combine to separate you from the modern world.
“I’m lucky enough to be in it every day. I go to work and there it all is. This is a chance for people to get away from the stresses of everyday life, if only for a couple of hours.”