forest bathing

Forest Bathing — Embrace The Healing Power of Nature

Forest bathing connects us back to vital sources of natural healing. Learn about this process and how your own health can benefit from it.

What is Forest Bathing?

Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term which means “taking in the forest atmosphere.” It is better known as, forest bathing.  It’s now the cornerstone of preventative health in Japan.  However, they didn’t invent this process.  But, researchers did study it extensively and found out how it works.   They found trees in mature forests emit unique healing compounds known as “phytoncides”. These organic compounds are known to boost our immune system.  So, spending time in diverse forests allows us access to these natural immune system enhancers.   And, the effects last long after exposure. So, forest bathing connects with the healing power of nature. We are after all a part of nature.  And, now this research is spreading forest bathing as therapy throughout the world.

Why is forest bathing necessary?

Why are we just now re-discovering this?  Well, most people live in cities made of asphalt, steel, and concrete.  As a result, our modern life isolates us from our connection with nature. Hence, we have become more susceptible to illness and disease.   For that reason, forest bathing is a way to regain this vital connection which is important for our health and wellbeing.

How do you practice forest bathing?

Scientists in Japan and South Korea spent considerable time researching elements and techniques for forest bathing.  They found how to gain optimal results from the time spent.  As a result, forest bathing contains two main elements.

First, it is helpful to find a mature forest. If this isn’t possible, then you can use a natural space or garden.  Remember it’s mature trees that are best.   Then you need to spend the proper amount of time.  Strolling around a variety of trees enables us to gain exposure to the most phytoncides.  Running through the forest doesn’t work. It doesn’t give you enough time to absorb them.  Also, researchers found that being “calm” and peaceful helped with our ability to absorb these elements. So, you need to spend enough time in one place for you to absorb the compounds.  These observations provide guidelines on the best practices to obtain the best results.   This is where the second part of the process comes in.

The second part of the forest bathing is Mindfulness Meditation (follow the link for details on this practice). Research shows when participants combine the two processes together they receive the maximum benefit.  Why and how does this mindfulness practice increase the effectiveness?  It’s probably because mindfulness enables us to move our focus from internal thoughts to the external, to the forest around us.

We describe forest bathing as walking contemplation with an awareness of our surroundings and our body.  Forest bathing is not a time to walk your dog or children.  It’s not a time for conversation.
 
Also, if a natural forest isn’t available then Mindfulness Meditation alone has its own health benefits.  Obviously, the best results come from combining the seated and moving meditative activities in a primal forest where there are a number of mature living tree varieties.  This is the ideal situation.
The Benefits of forest bathing
  • Immune system enhancement
  • Lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels.
  • Reduced levels of stress
  • Ability to think and reason increase
  • Increase in creativity
  • Increased empathy for others and nature

Summing it Up

Forest Bathing and Mindfulness Meditation are two of the basic spiritual technologies.  Another variation is “Tree Grounding.”  All three are wonderful techniques to use in the outdoors.  Of course, you can do the mindfulness meditation anywhere.  Many people find these are their favorite ways to learn how to ground and center.  They are easy to learn.  And, they are easy to practice.  Almost immediately people feel the positive effects.  And, it’s a good introduction to the arena of spiritual technologies.  Whenever possible we hold our initial phase one learning in or near a forest, nature center or park with trees.  Forest Bathing and moving Mindfulness exercises work well together.  In fact, many people find the two inseparable.  Try it yourself and see.
 
Certainly, this isn’t new.  People have been walking in the wilderness for eons.  Many of the stories about Sages and Avatars talk about spending time in the wilderness.  In fact, there are many stories of Sages finding enlightenment sitting under a tree.   Mystics and scientists alike agree that walking in the forest good for your health.  Walking barefoot on the earth is also beneficial.   Barefoot walking is perhaps better on clay or sandy soil.  The wilderness or forest has more obstacles.  So, be careful where you step. 
 
“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair” — Kahlil Gibran

In Conclusion

If this article resonates, there are more on our blog.  Also, you may be interested in learning about our blended learning process.  This is our curriculum which we use to teach several mind-expanding tools.  It also aligns the Hero’s Journey.  This is the term Joseph Campbell gave the pattern of consciousness development.  Our learning process is available in two forms.  You can take part in the virtual learning module or in our workshops.

While you are here please also check out our page FAQ for information about our mission.  And, please consider donating to support our mission of providing these ancient spiritual development tools.

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