Forest bathing is a holistic practice focusing on our ecological health. It aligns with our fundamental need as sentient beings to interact with nature.
Forest bathing is an activity that can reduce anxiety, depression, and boost the immune system.
It doesn’t matter whether this is done during a ten minute break at work, or when a whole day is spent roaming through a provincial park. The simple act of observing nature offers positive mental and physical benefits to our wellbeing.
Originating in Japan during the 1980’s, and known there as ‘Shinrin-yoku’, the translation means either, “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing”. Already cornerstone of preventive health care in Japanese medicine, it’s becoming known to health practitioners here in North America, too. They are beginning to see the practical use of forest bathing as a prescription for healing, helping patients by connecting them back to nature.
Akin to the practices of horticultural, animal, and art therapies, forest bathing is a sensory-based activity. In partnership with mindfulness and a green-space, it’s a tool to help us connect with the natural world. By slowing down even just for a while, we focus our attention on the beauty around us.
If only temporarily, forest bathing removes the daily distractions and stress caused by our manufactured schedules and hectic lives. Studies have shown that the aroma from certain trees in a forest has healing powers.
Usually, a session entails a quiet, slow-paced walk. A group of people mindfully meander, immersed in the forest, engaging with nature, using all five of their senses.
This tempered walk is not the same as hiking. The goal is not about breaking a sweat, or hurriedly trudging on towards a specific destination.
In conclusion, I’m currently immersed in learning how to be a forest guide. I’ll be offering a forest bathing session in Haliburton Ontario this spring.
More links about forest bathing:
- Forest Bathing International
- Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides
- Therapeutic Landscapes Network
- Gift of the Forest
- Nature Therapy
- Natural Thinking: Investigating the Links between the Natural Environment Biodiversity & Mental Health – PDF
- Dame Judi Dench: My Passion for Trees
- ASLA – Health Benefits of Nature
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