Forest Bathing is a translation from a Japanese word Shinrin-yoku. Rather than taking a bath, a better description is “taking in the forest atmosphere through all your senses”. The practice was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a popular approach to preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. There is a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of investing time under the canopy of a living forest. This new research is helping to establish Forest Bathing and other forms of forest and nature connection therapies throughout the world.
The idea is very simple, yet profoundly powerful: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed, mindful way there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved.
Humans have always known this instinctively and intuitively. But in the last few decades there have been many scientific studies that are demonstrating the mechanisms behind the healing power of nature connection.
(some of this research is available here). For example, many trees give off organic compounds that support our “NK” (natural killer) cells that are part of our immune system’s way of fighting cancer.
The scientifically-proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku include:
- Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body’s Natural Killer (NK) cells.
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced stress
- Improved mood
- Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
- Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
- Increased energy level
- Improved sleep
Just as impressive is the feedback we get back from people who walk regularly with us in nature:
- Deeper and clearer intuition
- Increased flow of energy
- Increased capacity to communicate with the land and its species
- Feeling more alive and connected to my true nature
- Deepening of friendships
- Overall increase in sense of happiness
- Opening our senses to nature develops a sense of awe
- Contact with nature makes me want to protect nature
Nature connection approaches such as Forest Bathing are increasing as people are becoming more conscience of how seperate we have become and feel a longing to re-connect to what we have lost and are losing.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home. Wilderness is a necessity.” John Muir
My Natural Mindfulness and Nature Care approach to Nature and Forest Therapy combines leisurely walks on gentle paths with guided activities to help you open your senses and sharpen your intuition. We learn natural life lessons from and experience a connection with the natural world, our true nature and each other, as we discuss and share what we are experiencing in nature together.
Contact me for more details of my walks, guide courses, nature care gatherings and retreats. Also, get in touch if you have any questions about Natural Mindfulness, Forest Bathing and Nature Connection.