Forest Bathing – Shinrin-Yoku – Drachenfels 6 km – Palatinate Forest
Forest bathing is not the same as hiking. The destination in forest bathing is “here”, not “there”. The pace is slow. The focus is on connection and relationship. The focus is on our senses. It is an immersion into nature. It is the art of stillness in the forest.
Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Researchers primarily in Japan and South Korea have established a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest. Now their research is helping to establish shinrin-yoku and forest therapy throughout the world.
The idea is simple: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved.
We have always known this intuitively. But in the past several decades there have been many scientific studies that are demonstrating the mechanisms behind the healing effects of simply being in wild and natural areas. For example, many trees give off organic compounds that support our “NK” (natural killer) cells that are part of our immune system’s way of fighting cancer.
The scientifically-proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku include:
● Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body’s Natural Killer (NK) cells.
● Reduced blood pressure
● Reduced stress
● Improved mood
● Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
● Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
● Increased energy level
● Improved sleep
Just as impressive are the results that we are experiencing as we make this part of our regular practice:
● Deeper and clearer intuition
● Increased flow of energy
● Increased capacity to communicate with the land and its species
● Increased flow of eros/life force
● Deepening of friendships
● Overall increase in sense of happiness
We recognize that forest therapy approaches such as Shinrin-yoku have roots in many cultures throughout history. John Muir wrote, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home. Wilderness is a necessity.” He is one of many people who we include when we think about the origins of the practice.