What is Forest Therapy?
Inspired by the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” forest therapy is a guided outdoor healing practice. Unlike a hike or guided nature walk aimed at identifying trees or birds, forest therapy relies on trained guides, who set a deliberately slow pace and invite people to experience the pleasures of nature through all of their senses. It encourages people to be present in the body, enjoying the sensation of being alive and deriving profound benefits from the relationship between ourselves and the rest of the natural world.
Shinrin-yoku started in Japan in the 1980s in response to a national health crisis. Leaders in Japan noticed a spike in stress-related illnesses, attributed to people spending more time working in technology and other industrial work. Certified trails were created to guide people in outdoor experiences. Decades of research show that forest bathing may help reduce stress, improve attention, boost immunity, and lift mood.
Health benefits of Forest Therapy:
Trees give off volatile essential oils called phytoncides that have antimicrobial properties and may influence immunity. Studies show a rise in number and activity of immune cells called Natural Killer Cells, which fight things such as viruses and cancer, among people who spent three days and two nights in a forest versus people who took an urban trip. This benefit lasted for more than a month after the forest trip!
The good news is, you don’t have to spend 2-3 days in the forest You can get a multitude of benefits from just 20 minutes a day in nature. That can include your back yard, your local park, or anywhere else nature can be found. Even people confined to a hospital bed may benefit from viewing nature. One study compared people who recovered from gallbladder surgery in a room with a window onto a natural outdoor view with people who recovered from the same surgery in a hospital room with a view of a brick wall. People who could see nature recovered more quickly and needed less powerful pain medication than people who could not see nature.
Other benefits of Forest Therapy, or Forest Bathing, include lowered blood pressure, lower cortisol levels, reduced stress, improved attention, immunity boost and elevated mood.
What is involved in a Forest Therapy/Forest Bathing walk?
A Forest Therapy walk (aka forest bathing walk) is a slow meander in nature using your senses to notice things that go unnoticed in our busy lives.
A typical walk is 1 1/2 to 2 hrs long and I will take you through a series of invitations designed to awaken your senses and imagination and the serendipity that the natural world has to offer.
What if I don’t hike?
That’s fine. We don’t hike. It’s literally a slow meander. If there are any issues, ie physical limitation, sensory issues, etc, that I should know about ahead of time just be sure and let me know on the booking form or shoot me an email before our walk.
Forest Therapy? Forest bathing? Do I need soap and a towel? A swimsuit? Is it a therapy session?
Nope! No soap or towel involved. Forest Bathing simply means you’re bathing in, or taking in the atmosphere of, the forest.
It’s also not “therapy” in a traditional way. We like to say “The Forest is the therapist. The guide opens the doors”.
What outcome should I expect?
The beauty of this practice is….there is no specific outcome. Whatever you get out of it on that day is the right outcome. On any given day, any of us may have a different result. Some days we may have a profound epiphany and other days we may just be happy to be in the peace and quiet for a couple hours.
The invitations given are completely open and there is no right or wrong way to do them. Some are like sensory meditations while others may be like mini activities.
This sounds GREAT! How do I sign up?
Just fill out the form below or shoot me an email. I will also be posting my walks on www.forestbathingfinder.com/guide-profile/interconnectedft/ where you can also purchase gift certificates for walks! Just click on the tab that says “my walks” and you’ll be able to see all my walks that are currently scheduled. You can also schedule a private walk for your or your group. I’m also available for teambuilding events and speaking engagements. Contact me for more information on having a Guided Forest Bathing walk for your next event or to schedule your walk at your convenience.
Check out the “about” section on this site to learn more about me!