How to Take a Forest Bath for Inspiration

A Walk Through the Woods with Christine Lintott

Insights
Christine Lintott
Words
Sarah Hackett
Film
Nathalie Attallah & Carly Williams

How to Take a Forest Bath for Inspiration

A Walk Through the Woods with Christine Lintott

Christine Lintott (AIBC, AAA, SAA, OAA, FRAIC) is the Principal Architect of Christine Lintott Architects and a Biomimicry Professional committed to bringing nature-inspired design to the world of architecture. A passionate translator of nature’s genius, Christine Lintott presents how one takes a nature or forest bath, for reinvigoration and inspiration. 

What is a “Forest Bath”?

Forest bathing is a practice that encourages time spent immersed in nature. Specifically, it is the intentional effort to open our senses to experience natural spaces, bridging the gap between us and the natural world. 

The term emerged in Japan in the 1980s as an exercise called shinrin-yoku, meaning “forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere” (2). “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” (1). 

Christine Lintott has used the practice to great success. Here, she shares her expertise with us.

The following interview has been edited for clarity and length. 

Take a Forest Bath 

To truly observe and engage your senses in nature, allow yourself 15 minutes of stillness to become one with the landscape. This allows your own pacing and connection to the place to deepen such that you recognize yourself and begin to be recognized as a member of that ecosystem.

Organisms like birds and other creatures inhabiting the space will become accustomed to your presence and the forest community will resume life with the vibrant bustle of a community we so often overlook. Listen to the cacophony of sounds and witness the hidden world underfoot.

And if you’re quiet, and you’re at peace, energetically, everything sort of starts to go back to its normal flow. And that’s what you want to be observing, that’s what you want to pay attention to

Connection to Biophilia 

By taking the time to observe and pay attention to your surroundings in these spaces, you start to notice the genius of specific adaptations. This can offer tremendous inspiration for considering complex problems, be it urban design, material innovation, patterns in fine art, and more.

Nature doesn’t have finite edges. It’s all about intersections and interfaces. It’s all about interconnection.

Learning from Nature

The beauty of plants is that, whether a blade of grass or a beautiful tree, each organism has adapted very specifically to the context in which they exist. They are rooted in place, and so, they have to deal with whatever conditions nature presents them with.

It’s really unusual to find an organism that exists in isolation from other organisms, and every organism is adapted to its environment.

This has applications for our built environment. The extent that our buildings can listen to the environmental circumstance that surrounds them and create harmony, is the extent to which they can better fit a particular place.

If we do our buildings right, they’re adapted to all those same conditions….All the things that factor into how a plant might adapt a place, in my mind, is absolutely relevant to how a building is adapted to place.

For more from Christine Lintott, visit her website and watch the entire The Garden of Secrets documentary here

Citations: 
Fitzgerald, Sunny. “The Secret to Mindful Travel? A Walk in the Woods.” National Geographic, 18 Oct. 2019, www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/lists/forest-bathing-nature-walk-health/. Accessed 27 Jan. 2020.
Li, Qing. “‘Forest Bathing? Is Great for Your Health. Here’s How to Do It.” Time, 1 May 2018, time.com/5259602/japanese-forest-bathing/. Accessed 27 Jan. 2020.

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