Shinrin-yoku is a term that means "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing". It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and 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. The idea is simple: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way, there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved.
So feeling a little anxious and out of sorts last week – and on the advice of my physiotherapist - I decided to put the idea to the test and headed to my nearest eucalyptus forest for a long wander by the water courses and amongst the towering trees.
We have always known the benefits of walking and breathing the fresh forest air. But in the past several decades there have been many scientific studies that are demonstrating the mechanisms behind the healing effects of simply being in wild and natural areas. For example, many trees give off organic compounds that support our “NK” (natural killer) cells that are part of our immune system's way of fighting many human conditions.
The scientifically-proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku include:
· Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body's Natural Killer (NK) cells.
· Reduced blood pressure
· Reduced stress
· Improved mood
· Increased ability to focus on every-day issues
· Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
· Increased energy level
· Improved sleep
Just as impressive are the results that we are experiencing as we make this part of our regular practice:
· Deeper and clearer intuition
· Increased flow of energy
· Increased capacity to communicate with the land and its species
· Increased flow of eros/life force
· Deepening of friendships ( if you walk with a friend … )
· Overall increase in sense of happiness
Another benefit of this therapy is that our eyes and senses are opened to the beautiful art of nature …
Shinrin Yoku Forest Therapy is all about leisurely walks on gentle paths under the forest canopy to help us open our senses, hone our intuition, and experience the forest as we never have before.
So when the pressure of living starts weighing heavy, grab a water bottle, slip on a sturdy pair of walking shoes, leave the phone at home and seek out your local forest path …
Breath + Relax + Wander + Touch + Listen and Heal
It works for me …