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Article

A Qualitative Study Comparing Mindfulness and Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing): Practitioners’ Perspectives

1
School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
2
Human Sciences Research Centre, University of Derby, Derby DE22 1GB, UK
3
College of Health, Psychology and Social Care, University of Derby, Derby DE22 1GB, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Takahide Kagawa
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6761; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126761
Received: 28 April 2021 / Revised: 4 June 2021 / Accepted: 8 June 2021 / Published: 15 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological Benefits of Walking or Staying in Forest Areas)
The boundary between mindfulness and forest bathing, two conceptually related therapies, is unclear. Accordingly, this study reports the strengths and challenges, similarities and differences, and barriers and facilitators for both. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven trained and experienced practitioners of both mindfulness and forest bathing. Reflexive thematic analysis revealed four main themes: (i) differences between the approaches; (ii) the benefits of forest bathing; (iii) biophilia through forest bathing; and (iv) inward versus outward attentional focus as a distinction between the approaches. Both practices were found to benefit well-being, but practitioners revealed key barriers to mindfulness. For vulnerable groups experiencing mental health challenges or difficulties achieving a meditative state, mindfulness may introduce well-being risks. By offering a gentler, more intuitive approach that encourages outward attentional focus, forest bathing was found to overcome this barrier. Forest bathing is suitable for all groups, but adaptations are recommended for those expressing fear or discomfort in forested environments. The findings inform how to position both approaches in practice, as a first step towards social prescribing recommendations. Wider implications concern forest bathing’s potential to impact environmental well-being. Future research must garner comparative data, involve young people, and explore the feasibility of a forest bathing social prescription. View Full-Text
Keywords: compassion; environment; forest bathing; mindfulness; nature connection; social prescribing; therapeutic practice compassion; environment; forest bathing; mindfulness; nature connection; social prescribing; therapeutic practice
MDPI and ACS Style

Clarke, F.J.; Kotera, Y.; McEwan, K. A Qualitative Study Comparing Mindfulness and Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing): Practitioners’ Perspectives. Sustainability 2021, 13, 6761. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126761

AMA Style

Clarke FJ, Kotera Y, McEwan K. A Qualitative Study Comparing Mindfulness and Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing): Practitioners’ Perspectives. Sustainability. 2021; 13(12):6761. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126761

Chicago/Turabian Style

Clarke, Fiona J., Yasuhiro Kotera, and Kirsten McEwan. 2021. "A Qualitative Study Comparing Mindfulness and Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing): Practitioners’ Perspectives" Sustainability 13, no. 12: 6761. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126761

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