Forest Bathing and the Benefits of Connections to Nature
Forest bathing – a translation of the Japanese phrase ‘Shinrin yoku’ seems to be experiencing a growth in interest. Surprisingly, although such activities may go back far in time in various cultures, it was not until 1982 that Tomohide Akiyama of the Japanese Forestry Agency coined the phrase. Unlike hiking, where the focus is on reaching a destination, forest bathing tends to be slower, with a much greater attention paid to noticing one’s environment. There is an aspect of mindfulness to forest bathing and it can also be called forest therapy – where there is an aim of greater wellbeing. The value of having greater contact with nature – and the absence of this in the lives of many young people in the developed world has been well documented. In a recent interview in the Guardian, Jenny Odell – author of ‘How to do nothing’, talked about accessing nature and of something like forest bathing: “I can’t even call it a hike, because some of that is just me sitting on a rock or under a tree somewhere”. Spending time amongst trees may be good for our physical and mental health and if done in the company of others, that social connection may do us good. Even just experiencing a period of time in a relaxed state will be beneficial to us. And the sounds and colours and sensations that we experience in such natural settings are ones that most people find extremely relaxing. M. Amos Clifford, in his charming book ‘Your guide to forest bathing’ lists some general principles, including ‘Minimise efforts to achieve anything’. He also suggests that there is no need to walk far – perhaps half a mile or even less, although walks should between two and four hours in duration in order to give enough time for mind and body to relax. Guides can be found locally who organise forest walks and if a friend needs convincing to go forest bathing with you, M. Amos Clifford also suggests that one ‘consider ending each walk with a snack and tea”.
Forest bathing is one of the many ways to reduce stress and improve wellbeing. To arrange a free first session of BWRT®, hypnotherapy or counselling, contact Jonathan at The Body Matters on 01702 714968.
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