A new type of therapy was developed in Japan in the early 1980s. In Japanese it’s called Shinrin Yoku which in English is Forest Bathing.
The theory is, and there is science-based research to back this up, our modern lifestyle puts us in a constant state of stress. Spending time in the forest among the plants and trees has a calming effect. This creates physiological relaxation and improvement of the immune system. Having a stronger immune system helps prevent illness and will help you stay strong.
This idea came out of the Japanese tradition and values which respect the natural world. Shintoism is a very old tradition in which there is no central God, but there are an unlimited number of kami or spirits which exist throughout Japan, mostly related to the natural world. Shintoism is a belief system that does not demand exclusivity. In fact, many Japanese people are practicing Buddhists, but also participate in Shinto rituals and beliefs.
Scientific research has found that being out in nature helps reduce our stress, lowers blood pressure, reduces cortisol (a stress hormone) and generally supports your immune system. In Japan, it is often used as part of a healthy lifestyle. Program.
I practice my own version of Shinrin Yoku, by walking outside, listening for the sounds of birds and other animals, and observing the natural world. By doing this ritual daily, even if I only have a few minutes, it helps remind me of the amazing world that surrounds us. It is one of the things I do to help build my resilience and reduce my levels of constant stress.
Shinrin Yoku serves as one form of meditation. Be still and let your mind enjoy the quiet that surrounds you.
To learn more about this therapy and to find a trained and certified therapist, visit shinrin-yoku.org or my shop to purchase your copy of Your Guide to Forest Bathing.