View Poll Results: What is your view on forest bathing?

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  • It's a natural and healthy form of therapy.

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  • It's a little bit hippy and eccentric.

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  • A bit of both.

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Thread: ‘Forest Bathing’ & Nature Therapy

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    ‘Forest Bathing’ & Nature Therapy

    Let's discuss the trends of forest bathing and nature therapy. Has it ever happened for you to be in a forest or natural environment and just stop for a few moments and take the air and atmosphere in? Observe the color of the sky, the smell of the air, listen to the sounds of the wind, birds and other animals? Or just simply to the sound of silence? Find yourself into a sort of "trance", just admiring the nature around you? This is what they call "forest bathing".

    I've gathered information from some sources on these forms of natural therapy. In short, forest bathing is immersing yourself into a forest (or other natural environment, mustn't be a forest only) and just taking/breathing the nature in. It's not hiking or camping trips or weekend grills with sunbathing, football and playing with children. It's a predominantly silent and relaxing experience.

    Nature therapy is a broader term which describes the practice that combines a range of exercises and tasks in an outdoor environment. As of today, there appear various definitions of what nature therapy comprises. Garden therapy, horticultural therapy, Kneipp therapy or even ocean therapy may be viewed as forms of nature therapy.

    Anthropologically, nature therapy appears to have existed since the dawn of time in many cultures and tribes. In modern times, for example, the concept of Shinrin-yoku (森林浴) was introduced in Japan in the early 1980s and may be regarded as a form of nature therapy. In Japan, Shinrin-yoku has become established across all prefectures with more than 60 Forest Therapy Camps by the end of 2016.

    Forest bathing

    Forest bathing doesn’t have anything to do with soaping up, but it can provide relaxation like your favorite bubble bath does. Forest bathing is taking time to unwind and connect with nature to improve your health. Simply put: Forest bathing is retreating to nature to immerse in the forest atmosphere. The practice has quickly been gaining popularity in the United States, and you can even find a ​Certified Forest Therapy Guide.

    What Forest Bathing Is Not

    Most of us think of a sweaty hike when we think of a trip to the woods. Forest bathing is set at a much slower pace and is focused on fully experiencing the nature around us. It isn’t about covering a set distance, raising your heart rate or even about the exercise.

    How to Forest Bathe

    All of these benefits won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to forest bathe. Dedicated Shinrin-yoku forests in Japan are predominantly conifer trees, but other trees are still beneficial for forest bathing. The point is to take a trip into the forest to soak in and fully experience your surroundings.

    There are forest bathing guides that are certified through the association of nature and forest therapy.

    According to this group “The aim of forest therapy is to slow down and become immersed in the natural environment.”

    Lying on the ground, meditating, gathering forest edibles and noticing the foliage are some of the different ways you can forest bathe.

    How Often Should You Forest Bathe?

    Most of the studies showed benefits when participants went on forest bathing trips every one to four weeks. The more often you can go, the better. However, positive results were still seen even seven days after a forest bathing trip, and even as long as 30 days later.

    Where to Forest Bathe

    In the United States, any nature scene is considered acceptable for forest bathing, however Japan takes a more scientific approach. Shinrin-yoku trails in Japan are only certified as such after blood sampling shows a specific increase in natural killer cells. Choosing an area that’s heavily wooded by conifer trees may be best, but really any heavily wooded area will do. Just don’t forget the all-natural bug spray!

    If you’re sweating, are distracted by swatting at bugs, or there are noisy children running around, then you can’t focus on relaxing. Choose a place with a comfortable temperature with minimal noise and distractions.

    Enhance the Experience with Earthing

    Since the idea is to connect with the Earth, grounding or barefoot shoes help improve the experience. This also enhances your perception of the surroundings. Depending on the area you’re in and the exact circumstances, you can also kick your shoes off and go barefoot. Electromagnetic exposure from wireless devices, cell phone towers, and other modern-day technology saturates our environments. Earthing and forest bathing gives us a way to reset our natural electromagnetic fields and center the body.

    No Forest? No Problem!

    If a whole forest isn’t available to you, then even standing underneath a single tree and inhaling deeply will benefit the body to some degree. Lay on a patch of healthy grass. Go to a nature park. There’s even some evidence to suggest that focusing on a picture of a forest may have some health benefits!

    The Scientifically-Proven Benefits of Forest Bathing

    • 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
    The sources:

    What is your view on this therapy? Have you practiced it? Does it sound a little bit hippy or is it a good development to counteract urbanisation? I wasn't even aware it was a form of natural therapy until I read about it. For me, this used to be a natural and normal experience, which I appreciated especially when I "escaped" from the bustle of the town. Nowadays especially with the growth of urbanisation, peoples should be trying more and more to connect with nature. But is it enough to do a little bit of "forest bathing" as a holiday activity? Must we treat it as an eccentricity? Or should we try to reconnect more, and bring bits and pieces of nature to us even if we live and work in cities on a daily basis?

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    I feel it comes instinctively to go into a semi-meditative state of mind when in the woods and I'm sure it's beneficial to mind and body. The more trees we can have in our lands the better.

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