As a therapist and social worker, I interact with dozens of people throughout my day. In order to replenish my energy, attend to my own physical and mental needs, and connect with my own emotions, I engage in mindfulness practices, many of which I have developed throughout my training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and over the course of my life. One of my favorite mindfulness practices incorporates the DBT “WHAT” Skills of observing, describing, and participating, in particular as it relates to engaging in my favorite leisure activity of shinrin-yoku, otherwise known as the Japanese practice of “forest bathing.”
The DBT “WHAT” Skills outline what you need to do when practicing mindfulness. Observe what is happening to your body using the five senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell), and focus your attention on the external world in addition to the internal experience. Notice your body in space, notice the thoughts that float through the mind. Additionally, describe or place words to your experience, labeling exactly what you are observing. And finally, actively participate in the present moment, fully immersing yourself into whatever it is that you are doing.
To draw a parallel to the practice of shinrin-yoku, one engages in mindful walking through nature, observing with the fives senses being immersed in greenery, flora and fauna. Research completed on this practice yields findings that forest bathing can reduce stress, improve mental clarity, and promote one’s health and overall functioning.
Here are some of my tips for integrating the DBT “WHAT” Skills with shinrin-yoku:
The wonderful thing about this practice is that there is no “wrong” or “right” way of practicing mindfulness. Set an intention to try something different, and perhaps you will find it a meaningful exercise to incorporate into your self-care regimen
Hansen, M. M., Jones, R., & Tocchini, K. (2017). Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(8), 851. doi:10.3390/ijerph14080851
Julia Suklevski is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you are looking for support in finding solutions to enhance your overall wellness, contact Cobb Psychotherapy by calling 718-260-6042 or emailing email@example.com, and see how therapy can help.
August 19, 2019