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In Japan it’s known as Shinrin Yoku. Forest bathing is gaining popularity around the world. We explore the alchemy that takes place in the forest and ask, what is forest bathing?

The Origins of Forest Bathing

Forest bathing originated in Japan in the 1980s. Named Shinrin-Yoku, or “taking in the forest”. It’s a combination of physical and mental exercise. Above all, it’s an opportunity, to get outside and to soak up the forest vibe. Forest bathing emerged in response to the increase in burnout that accompanied the rise of tech industries in Japan. Meanwhile, we’ve continued to divorce ourselves from nature at a rate of knots since then. As a result, we’ve become so disconnected from nature that we barely spend any time outdoors. Researchers predict that by 2050, 66% of the world’s population is will live in cities. Moreover a recent study found the average American spends 93% of their time indoors. Most importantly, reconnecting with nature had some pretty awesome health benefits for those early adoptees of forest bathing. So, what can we learn from them?

The Magic of Forest Bathing

Shinrin-yoku became one of the earliest forms of ecotherapy. By the 1990s the benefits became obvious. Subsequently, researchers attempted to discover what was going on out in the forest. They uncovered something that our ancestors have known for centuries. Time in nature, connecting with the energy of the earth, increases our wellbeing. In an increasingly turbulent world, forest bathing is the perfect way to dial down your stress. Subsequently, interest in forest bathing has snowballed since the 80s. So much so, that there is growing support for the social prescribing of nature-based activities by healthcare bodies around the world.

The Benefits of Shinrin Yoku

Connecting with nature has enormous benefits. It’s an opportunity to relax, digitally disconnect and unplug from the pressures of modern life. Subsequently studies have found that time connecting with nature:

  • Reduces stress
  • Increases vitality
  • Improves mood
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Lowers our heart rate & blood pressure
  • Improves cognitive flexibility
  • Increases our focus
The Benefits of Shinrin Yoku
The Benefits of Shinrin Yoku

Nature Connection & Forest Bathing

However, it’s more than just a pleasant walk. Shinrin yoku is an opportunity to engage all of your senses. Fully. For instance, you notice the sounds, aromas and sights of the forest. Consequently, it’s a sensory immersion. Forest bathing is a nature based ritual that you can re-create yourself. Anywhere. Here’s how.

Go to a local park, woods or forest. Firstly, unplug from your devices. Secondly, take three deep breaths, inhaling the phytoncides of the forest. Thirdly, use your intuition and begin to walk. Release yourself from doing mode. Above all, slow your pace right down and notice what’s happening around you. Subsequently, bring your awareness to sights, aromas, sounds, temperature. Lastly, connect with the forest using each of your five senses. Focus on your sight, sound, touch, taste, scent one by one.

Discover more about ecotherapy by exploring our online mindful nature connection courses We regularly hold mindfulness events in nature courses. Check out our events page here or get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

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