Me and my group of friends did some unintentional forest bathing when we went camping in Joshua Tree, ten minutes outside of cell reception.

It has been a year of not going out. Those who were able to work from home had a set of challenges different from those who had no choice but to go to work. Either way, it has been a tough year (plus change) that has challenged us mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Mobile phones, computers, Zoom calls, and even sources of relaxation that we used may have exhausted their benefits, causing us to scramble for a mental outlet to make it through another day.

If you’re like me and you just want to "get out of here," you might be interested in the Japanese practice of forest bathing to reset our biological clock by immersing ourselves in nature and experiencing it through our senses.

Dr. Qing Li of Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness guides you through methods and tips on how to forest bathe, but I think leaving our current living situation and surrounding ourselves in nature in itself is a victory and halfway to forest bathing. It has been found to have boost immunity and mood.

Two weekends ago, I was committed to going camping with some friends that I wasn’t entirely looking forward to. Most of it was because I have a laundry list of work to do for my family’s restaurant (that I need to attend to) but also because it was going to reach 105 degrees in Joshua Tree. Hot weather and being drained from the sun isn’t how I wanted to spend my first night away this year.

The three and half hour drive was pleasant. Music, air conditioning, visual stimulation of passing cars/scenery, and conversation are always relaxing (especially when it’s not in traffic). I even believe driving to be a form of meditation….we’ll get to that another day.

I’m surprised that the tires of my car didn’t explode when the temperature read 105F at the campsite, but it didn’t feel as hot when sitting back with the trunk of the cars propped up. Like lizards and other small creatures of the desert, we hung out in the shade and waited for the sun to start to set. There was a slight breeze forcing us to stake our tents into the ground to keep them from flying back to Los Angeles.

I forgot that once we landed, we immediately pitched our tents because I didn’t want to lose light, but the summer days in Southern California are long.

Once golden hour hit and after one of our friends yakked from altitude sickness, we fired up the camping stoves and cooked some delicious marinated steak and pork with vegetable sides, all from H-Mart (the real MVP-take notes everyone). 10/10 for taste, ease to prepare, and quickness to shovel food into my mouth.

A campfire and of course s’mores followed right after.

It was 18 hours that we spent with none of us reaching for our devices and it was because we were all 10 minutes out of cell reception. If we did have our phones, our experience would have been quite different.

There was something nice about talking about something, not knowing a specific detail about it, being unable to look it up on Wikipedia, and then being okay with not knowing whatever it was you were going to look up. Just like the good ol’ days.

My state of mind over just one night vastly improved. 10/10 would recommend. Pick a weekend this summer and try it some time.

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