Forest bathing has been getting a lot of attention lately, but the idea is nothing new. Originally developed in Japan in the 1980s, the concept of “shinrin-yoku” takes a walk in the woods to a whole new, scientifically-proven, level.
Forest bathing is particularly fascinating to me because my home is surrounded by trees (with ample woods nearby), and I can personally attest to their healing powers. I owe a lot of credit to my local landscape for lifting my spirits during some particularly tough times. I will gladly hug or touch a tree for an instant boost of happiness, no shame.And while hugging trees is all well and good, it’s not quite forest bathing.
Back to forest bathing.
Given my affinity for trees, the forests they create, and the surrounding flora, fauna, mushrooms, etc… I wanted to begin capturing some favorite spots in a new collection of Virtual Forest Bathing videos.
Of course virtual forest bathing doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing, but when the weather takes a turn or when I need to have a meditative, calming moment, I find these digitized sights and sounds therapeutic in their own way (even the cameo calls by my neighbor’s pet turkey in this first one).
Perhaps you will find them meditative too.
A bit more on the real thing…
The deliberate act of forest bathing is often more than just a walk in the woods. Partaking in an organized forest therapy excursion usually entails covering very little ground over a very long period of time. There is not much movement, no touching or interfering (that includes hugging, I suppose), no noise, and no cell phones or cameras are allowed.
The focus is merely to absorb the full sensory experience of being in the woods, from a meditative place. Therein lies the potent healing.
Taken from shinrin-yoku.org:
Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” It has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.
Researchers primarily in Japan and South Korea have established a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest. Now their research is helping to establish shinrin-yoku and forest therapy throughout the world.
Some scientifically-proven benefits include:
- Boosted immune system
- Reduced stress and blood pressure
- Improved mood, energy levels, sleep, and ability to focus
- Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
And if the woods aren’t accessible to you in real life, or you’re freaking out about ticks (me too), don’t fret – I will have many more virtual forest “baths” to share soon. 🌲