Forest Bathing / Shinrin Yoku 森林浴
(forest, woods, and taking it all in).
The forest is the therapist; the guide opens the doors*.
The fragrance of damp earth, patterns of light, texture and color on tree bark, in forest therapy one’s senses expand. Slowing way down, you will experience the pleasure of stillness and quiet. Your mind can settle, rhythms reset. The spaciousness of forest air offers new ways of listening, connecting to the forest in deeply personal ways. Your journey may lead you to new ways of being and knowing.
The Japanese retreat from crowded, fast-paced lives into forests. They bathe in presence, not rushing as in a cardio-workout, not learning the names of nature’s parts. There’s no need to achieve a given trail. This path to wellness grew out of Japan’s response to a high incidence of autoimmune disease during their electronics boom in the 1980s. Shinrin Yoku has become a cornerstone of preventive healthcare in Japan. Forest healing, named Forest Bathing, is now part of a global effort to reconnect with nature in our digital age.
Japan’s research on the health benefits of this approach began in the 1930s and has since spread to Korea, Canada, Finland and the United States. Peer reviewed studies show physical benefits like stress relief, lower blood pressure, immune system boost and improved sleep. The show emotional benefits too: happiness, more energy, focus and creativity. When body and emotions are in balance, there’s evidence of more years to enjoy life and contribute.
The science suggests it’s wise to invest in access to forests and natural areas. More than 50% of the world’s population now lives in urban areas. By 2050 that proportion will be 70 %. Research shows an increase in mental illness in urban populations. More time under the canopy of trees can lead to a healthy workforce. In this way Forest Bathing can benefit the “mental capitol” of individual cities, nations and regions.
Why go with a guide?
Being in the forest in this way is new. For many, being guided by an expert keeps them from falling into old habits like walking quickly, analyzing, not receiving the powerful gifts a forest can offer. Participants have said, “It’s amazing how much more detail I heard, saw and felt, especially when Kathleen asked me to focus on my different senses.” And, “It’s nature like you’ve never experienced it before.”
Want to keep up-to-date on upcoming Forest Immersion news and events?
Sign up to renew your spirit with Forest Bathing.