Forest Therapy, or Forest Bathing, started in Japan as a preventative health care program to support well-being, relaxation, and nervous system restoration.
Unlike a typical walk, Forest Therapy is a slow, immersive exploration of the forest. Participants are guided through mindful interaction with Nature in a way that engages the senses and calms the mind.
Even those who may struggle with meditation can experience the rejuvenative state of clarity, spaciousness, wonder, awe and gratitude that arises when we slow down to connect with the world around us.
"I had always struggled with mindfulness and meditation practices, but through Forest Therapy I found myself effortlessly immersed in the beauty of the present moment. It felt like a full body reset." - Katie B.
A Forest Therapy session weaves together two components:
1) Invitations: these are light-touch, sensory-oriented prompts that encourage mindful interaction with Nature.
2) Way of Council: an experience of true community, where participants may choose to share in a circle using honest, authentic expression and are received with attentive listening.
- Benefits -
Research has shown that Forest Therapy sessions can:
- Boost your immunity for up to three weeks
- Reduce inflammation, fatigue, and insomnia
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce anxiety, depression and stress
- Increase creativity, alertness and focus
Forest Therapy, Forest Bathing, or Shrinrin Yoku as it is known in Japanese, is a relatively recent practice that began in Japan in the 1980s. However, Forest Therapy is also an ancient practice. It is a re-introduction to ways of being that our ancestors lived and breathed.
Find out more about below!
The term 'Shinrin-Yoku' was coined in 1982 by the then Director-General of the Agency of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries of Japan, Tomohide Akiyama. Researchers had began to notice the escalating rates of ill-health linked to the urbanization of Japan's population. Akiyama intuitively believed that the people of Japan were in need of healing through Nature.
Through research beginning in the 1980's, it became clear that spending time immersed in the forest atmosphere had significant positive impacts on both physical and mental health, and could counter many of the endemic well-being issues and illnesses created by modern life.
This has led to a world-wide renaissance in the practice of Forest Therapy and Nature-based healing.
From an evolutionary standpoint, human beings have lived the majority of their history as "hunter/gatherers".
This lifestyle was similar to that of large omnivorous organisms: foraging for berries and fruits, scavenging and hunting and fishing where possible.
Such an existence meant that integration with the natural world was key to survival. Our senses co-developed with the world around us, adapting to respond to the sights, sounds, smells, cycles and rhythm of ecological life.
At a certain point, some bands of humans encountered plants and animals that were amenable to domestication. The stability and security offered by farming, shifted these bands rapidly into to an increasingly agrarian lifestyle.
This rural lifestyle was still largely embedded in nature, although there was a marked shift in focus from natural ecosystems (which are now secondary as a food source to crops) to a focus on weather systems, particularly rain cycles.
With the onset of the industrial revolution, this sense of separation and control over Nature developed even further. A mass migration began as many humans transitioned from rural agrarian societies into completely man-made environments called "cities".
These synthetic environments are characterized by shapes, noises (both frequencies and volumes) and smells which are completely alien from the natural shapes, noises and smells which the human organism has, up until now, become accustomed.
Population density increased exponentially, and with the advent of the electric lightbulb, this population spent an increasing amount of time indoors.
Societal development has largely continued in this way until the present day, contributing to increasingly commoditized and disconnected view of nature.
Interestingly, at the same time, the incidence of chronic physical and mental health issues has increased dramatically, especially in metropolitan societies.
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