Shinrin Yoku or otherwise known Forest Bathing, Forest Therapy or Nature Therapy.
Mindfulness in Nature.
(There are many names for the medicine of being in the forest)
I have just come back from a few days in the forests of South Devon that run along side the River Dart. It has been an amazing experience. I went to have a deeper experience of forest therapy and to train to use this in my own practices and having studied this for a number of years now; I am happy to say that it exceeded all expectations!
“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.What you’ll discover will be wonderful.What you’ll discover is yourself.”~ Alan Alda
Forest Bathing Therapy
Forest Therapy is a practice that involves spending time in nature in a way that invites healing interactions. In Japan, the term “shinrin-yoku” is a household phrase and it has become a national pastime for increased wellbeing with a number of dedicated forest-therapy bases around Japan. The idea is that you switch off your mind, melt into nature and you can then let the forest’s healing hands do the rest.
The term was coined in 1982 by forestry minister Tomohide Akiyama, which prompted a government campaign to promote Japan’s 25m hectares of designated forest areas and there are now tours that can take you to these designated areas.
It may seem obvious that being away from your daily routine will reduce stress, but according to Yoshifumi Miyazaki, (a professor at Chiba University and author of a book on shinrin-yoku), forest bathing doesn’t just have psychological benefits – it also has a physiological effect.
“Your cortisol levels rise when you are feeling stressed, and fall when you are relaxed,” Miyazaki says.
“We discovered that when you go for a walk in the forest, cortisol levels are reduced, which means you are less stressed.”
These health benefits can last for several days, which means that a weekly detox can promote sustained wellbeing.
Mindfulness in Nature
- In just 2 hours an increase of NK cells in the body with affects lasting for upto 30 days (an increase in anti cancer proteins and immune system benefits)
- Stress hormones adrenaline and cortical levels are lowered
- Anxiety, depression, anger, fatigue and confusion all reduced after forest bathing trips of different durations
- Adiponectin is increased. Add is associated with metabolic disorders
- Reduces BP more effectively ( Dr Qing Li)
- Increases activity of the parasympathetic nervous system (calming branch of our nervous system)
What happens on a guided session?
Go to a Forest. Walk slowly. Breathe. Open all your senses.
This is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy,
the medicine of simply being in the forest.
The guided sessions consist of gentle walks of between 1-2 miles, although they are not simply nature walks. There are a number of specific techniques that are used along with activities that are designed to increase your relationship with nature. Each activity helps to slow you down from your normal fast paced life and bring your attention to sensory experiences within this nature trail.
Each session has a duration of between 2-4 hours or longer day and weekend retreats for deeper immersion. This is certainly not a hike and will suit most levels of fitness.
Check out our events to find out when a guided session may be happening in this area.
Be gentle with yourself