Bearing the traces of Japanese philosophy, being a combination of the concepts of Shinrin (forest) and yoku (bath), the concept translated as “Forest Bathing” is defined as being in nature aimlessly and connecting to the forest through our senses. Having emerged in the 1980s when Japan wanted to make the forests attractive to city dwell- ers, the concept of shinrin-yoku also refers to the act of embracing oneself nature and greenery. Described as the practice of spending time in the forest to increase health and happiness, forest bathing focuses on experiencing nature through our 5 senses.
Forest bathing is actually based on thousands of years of intuitive knowledge: “We are part of nature and we need a deep contact to feel this connection.” Forest bathing is a powerful antidote to the issues of the modern world
HOW TO FOREST BATH?
The important thing about forest bathing is to go beyond the human world, to listen to nature’s invitation in every forested space… Leaving behind any goal and expectation. Wander without aim, let your legs take you wherever they want. Unlike trekking, it is important to walk very slowly, touch the ground and smell the air. You also need to leave electronic devices such as phones and tablets behind. In other words, you have to feel nature through each of your five senses. Take occasional breaks to have a closer look at a leaf or notice the feeling of the path under your feet. In case you go with other people, make a pact not to speak until the end of the walk. At the end of the walk, gather and share your experiences with each other.
BENEFITS OF FOREST BATH
1- Reduces Stress
Forest bathing has positive effects on many sources of stress. It reduces blood pressure, anxiety, and the level of stress hormones.
2- Improves Your Mood
Spending time in nature contributes to the secretion of the hormone of happiness, allowing the person to calm down.
3- Boosts Your Immune System
Trees and plants emit ‘phytoncides’ that we breathe when we spend time in the forest. The study by Qing Li, a Japanese “shirin yoku” researcher, shows that these phytoncides increase the activity of natural killer cells that help our bodies fight disease. Thus, our immune system gets strengthened.
There are currently 44 Shinrin-Yoku forests as a result of research helping to establish “Shinrin-Yoku” (forest bathing) in Japan and worldwide. Each study done so far shows that participants experience a reduction in symptoms of stress, anger, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. In fact, following the first 15 minutes of forest bathing, blood pressure drops, stress levels decrease, and concentration improves. Once you learn how to reestablish your connection with nature, you can take a forest bath anywhere. Be it the garden of the summer house that reminds you of your childhood, or a park in the city… As long as you remember that you are a part of nature, that there is a tight bond between you and the forest.
Gamze Biber Özay / Publishing Editor