Forest bathing – it might sound a bit wacky and actually, it involves no bathing, but it is a practice well-known in Japan and catching on here in the U.S.
Basically, forest bathing is called “shinrin-yoku” in Japan and means “taking in the forest.” It can be a short walk, a longer hike involving over-night stays or even just entering the woods and sitting there to “take it all in.”
There are more and more studies about the benefits of being in nature and some parks and outdoor spaces now offer forest bathing classes, times and schedules. There are even doctors who write prescriptions to spend more time outdoors. According to Web MD, some doctors have become trained to be forest guides for others.
Many of you who are reading this might be thinking, “Tell me something new,” but this is new concept for many, many others. While we may try to share our love of the outdoors and nature, backing up what we are promoting with real terms – i.e. forest bathing, studies and proof that doctors are into it to, help the cause and make the world healthier.
There is now a category called Forest Medicine that involves the whole science and process of using nature to help heal on many levels, including forest bathing.
At the recent Survivor’s Outdoor Experience Healing Adventure Retreat held at Chatham University Eden Hall Campus, farm manager Tony Miga, led participants on a forest bathing tour. Taking advantage of the gorgeous outdoor space on the campus and adjacent woods, Miga pointed out plants and trees, then talked about the concept of forest bathing. For the next several minutes, we hiked in silence, taking in nature, hearing the birds and other sounds of the forest. It was the opportunity to smell the earth, the pine trees and other scents offered up by Mother Earth.
While the respite was a few short minutes, it gave the participants an idea of the healing nature of well, nature.
“I know it sounds a bit new age and I’m really skeptical of those things, but studies prove that it works,” he said.
There are numerous articles on forest bathing for further reading including: https://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20190611/forest-bathing-nature-time-hot-health-advice
Here is a study to help you convince skeptical friends: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5580555/
And even a few books on the subject: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=forest+bathing&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss
Want to become trained to become certified in forest therapy? https://www.natureandforesttherapy.org/
Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go take a bath – the outdoor kind.