The Healing Way of “Forest Bathing” and How It Can Clear Your Mind
“Forest bathing”, or “Shinrin-yoku”, is a form of therapy that provides a different therapeutic experience by immersing oneself in nature.
It was first introduced by Japan in 1982 as a preventive health measure, but has recently grown popular around the world as “a method of preventing diseases and promoting health,” says Qing Li, author of the book The Art and Science of Forest Bathing.
Li, who is also an associate professor at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, describes Shinrin-yoku as a means of “bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses.”
He explains that it does not involve exercise such as jogging or hiking in nature, but rather “simply being in nature, connecting with it through our sense of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Shinrin-yoku… bridges the gap between us and the natural world.”
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Two years ago, the organization Shinrin-Yoku Barcelona was started by Alex Gesse, a certified Forest Therapy Guide, Mentor, and Trainer with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. The organization regularly guides groups of very different people to the forest – ranging from corporate workers to school children to people with physical or mental disabilities.
A session involves two to three hours of walking in the forest, while a guide offers suggestions and provides activities that help participants’ senses “become more open to nature’s rhythms”.
Since there is no universal or regulated form of forest bathing, people can try forest bathing on their own, but it is recommended to start out with someone and be more informed about the methods used by guides to make the experience more enjoyable.
People may have different experiences, but everyone can derive benefits from their time at the heart of the forest.
Nature has been known to have a calming effect, so a session can help a person feel more relaxed, energized, and at peace. According to researchers, regular practice of shinrin-yoku helps lower blood pressure and regulate stress, which in turn lowers risk of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension.
Forest bathing is also linked by some studies to an increased number of natural killer cells in the body, which are believed to be anti-cancer. People may need to have regular sessions, however, before seeing long-term changes.
While there is still no clear explanation on how it provides the said health benefits, forest bathing remains a valuable experience that provides peace and a welcomed break from today’s modern world.
Source: Living It