Winter Forest Bath

I walk slowly and use my senses. Or come back to my senses! For this experience I’m not trying to identify plants or birds. I’m not counting my steps or trying to work up a sweat. I’m just being, in the forest, in winter.

park sign.jpg

My favorite forest primeval, Warren Woods State Park, lies sleeping under a blanket of snow and the spell of winter. I am out in the woods, practicing winter Shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing” – a nature inspired body-mind spiritual practice. By experiencing the winter forest in a liminal meditation state, through my senses, and without agenda, I’m connecting with nature and practicing meditation in motion.

The simple and dreamy practice of Shinrin-yoku comes from Japan and is encouraged by the Japanese government as a way to decrease stress, elevate mood, strengthen the immune system, and improve quality of life since 1982.

I walk slowly and use my senses. Or come back to my senses! For this experience I’m not trying to identify plants or birds. I’m not counting my steps or trying to work up a sweat. I’m just being, in the forest, in winter.

sun through trees.jpg

With the absence of the leaves and plants, sounds are clearer, yet at the same time the snow mutes. Rasps and groans from the trees cut through the crisp air. The chatter of birds, woodpeckers rapping, an occasional soft thump of a heavy snow dropping from a tree limb. The curious sound of my feet in the snow makes me laugh out loud.

The landscape is awash in an endless array of subtly magnificent shades of cobalt, grey, browns, and white. A solitary snowflake sparkles like a faerie kiss on the snow – white, blue, or gold.

leaf in snow.jpg

I pause and feel the snowflakes land gently on my face; I follow a single snowflake on its path fluttering down. In the air lies a hint of the scent of fresh linen (washed in unscented soap, please). In the winter forest there is scent, but at the same time, no scent. The scent of snow is almost more of ‘scentsation.’ I open to the idea of feeling the scentless scent.


River with snow.jpg

Eventually a chill creeps in. I wish I had brought a thermos of tea. I could have stayed longer! Next time. For now I return to my car, my spirit cleansed and bright.

Maybe I’ll head over to a local beach community, now pleasantly sleepy with winter,  Union Pier.  I can warm up with a sandwich at Milda’s or a soup and vegan pastry at Black Current Bakehouse. Life really is good.

Interested in a talking a winter forest bath of your own? Here are some ideas to try:

  • Walk as slowly as you can while still keeping warm.
  • Fix your gaze on a single snowflake and notice how amazing it is!
  • Stop and listen. What do you hear?
  • Lean your back against a tree, feeling it sway (or not) and look up at the bare branches in contrast to the sky beyond.
  • Place your mittened hand on your heart. How do you feel?

looking up.jpg

For more info about Shrinin-yoku go to or check out the book The Little Handbook of Shinrin-yoku by M. Amos Clifford.

Warren Woods is located in Harbor Country Michigan.  A few miles from my sweet home in the magical village of Three Oaks.

Doreen Walking Away.jpg


Author: Doreen

Purveyor of beauty and the imaginal realm. I write, blend botanical perfume, spend countless hours in nature, travel, chase faeries, and enjoy artistic expression. An avid meditator and yogini seeking conscious liberation.

17 thoughts on “Winter Forest Bath”

  1. Beautiful. We are sweltering here in the Southern Hemisphere and many of us would gladly be in your shoes… stepping through the snow in mindful appreciation. How I love the squeaky creaky sound of snow underfoot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, lots of people around here escape to swelter somewhere! When I lived in Chicago I grew to HATE winter. Moving out of the big city and to this lovely place helped me to heal. I love winter now. I’m leaving today to escort my parents and work as a tour leader on a trip to Belize and Guatemala and I am sad to go! What will I miss?!?!?!? This attitude is such a switch for me! Well, speaking of which, I better go finish packing. Thank you for visiting!


  2. This is so magical! I was recently out in the winter woods for a midwinter bonfire, and I felt much of what you described. Thanks for the inspiration!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing.
    I haven’t seen snow for, probably, 7 years. This year we went to Utah for the NY celebration, and I was outside for 30 minutes and then spent 5 days looking at snow… from the window of the cabin we rented: it’s not much fun walking outside when you have a cold (flu?). Oh, well… Until the next occasion, I’ll have to enjoy pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Undina – No snow for 7 years, and then that! Wow! I’m so sorry you got sick on your NY and vacay! Such a pity. I hope you were snuggled in a blanket with a nice toddy at least. The snow is nice to look at from the window. I write a morning gratitude list which lately frequently includes “I’ms so grateful for this warm house.” Glad you enjoyed the pics!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Doreen! I want to forest bathe with you. I read this post earlier and it did lead me to walk outside into the small woods behind my home and enjoy the dappled sunlight and rustle and chirp of the birds. I am determined to do that more often. Thank you for sharing this with us! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would love that Julie! I am so glad you got a forest bath in. It is so healing. Sometimes I go to the forest all funky and tired, and soon I am smiling and breathing… I have been wanting to ask you to write a book please. Your writing is so beautiful… Can you please put that on your to-do list? xoxoxox


  5. Thank you for inspiring article. I enjoyed reading this. I am going to do this more often. It is snowing here too and i was out in my garden today practicing your teachings. I used to not like winter but i have come to love and treasure all of the seasons now. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to reading more of your fantastic blogs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Earth Faeries Jewellery! I am glad you enjoyed this article. I also used to hate winters. Living in the city made winters seem harsh and ugly. Living in the country has helped me to enjoy winter and the snow… I have another story about that also. For another time. Thanks for visiting here – I will enjoy your blogs as well! Love to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Doreen, yes it sounds like you have had a similar journey to me. My heart is now in the countryside and living here has helped me love and embrace all of the seasons. Look forward to hearing that story. That is kind of you to say thank you. I am glad that you are enjoying what I am writing. And likewise. Love to you too! Thanks for your support.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s so great, Melanie! Living closer to lots of nature brings fulfillment! I’m so glad we connected here. Love your hair jewelry idea!


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