“Forest Bathing” is a practice which fuses spending slow time in woodland areas, nature exploration, and elements of mindfulness practice to promote relaxation and cultivate innate natural healing.
Based on precepts of Shinrin-Yoku (literally: forest bathing) with long history and high repute in Japan, forest therapy has gained mainstream popularity in the West as people acknowledge the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of being in nature.
And science is increasingly quantifying those benefits in tangible outcomes which include: reduction in cortisol (stress hormone) levels, increase in immune function, reduced mood disorder severity, a deeper sense of mental relaxation, and increased feelings of gratitude, selflessness and wonder.
The forest is the healer, the practice opens the doors.
A guided forest therapy walk is a gently-structured experience offering open-ended exercises (in forest therapy called “invitations” to highlight that you may interpret and do them as you wish) to help open your senses and your soul, to engage with the woods in meaningful ways. Forest therapy sessions are not hikes; they are immersive, move slowly, encourage personal presence and exploration, and conclude with a tea ceremony.
Further background on the practice:
- Vitamin T – A report in The Globe and Mail about the benefits and beauty of forest bathing.
- Let Nature Be Your Medicine – A quick overview of “forest bathing” and its benefits, published in Grey-Bruce Mosaic magazine.
- About Forest Bathing – a brief but beautifully-written overview, by Ontario author, scientist and environmentalist Diana Beresford Kroeger.