In Japan, people have been practising shinrin-yoku, or Forest Bathing, officially since the 1980s, and this practise has been gaining in popularity in the UK and USA in recent years.
The idea of forest bathing is to go for a slow walk through a heavily forested area, ideally one that contains conifer trees. Forest bathing is not about going for a hike or getting exercise, and it isn’t even about walking to somewhere specifically. Forest bathing is all about taking things slowly in nature. The aim is to use your senses – touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste – to reconnect with nature. So pick an area you love, and just wander for a few hours. Look at the leaves, notice the sound of your footsteps and the birds, take big breaths in (and out!) to experience the clean, oxygen rich air present in the forest, and why not give a tree a hug?
Forest bathing is a powerful mindstillness practise. It’s a way of stilling and calming the mind, focusing all the senses on the present, and reconnecting with nature and yourself. And it has some serious benefits, because that’s not all it is!
We all know trees produce oxygen, so walking amongst them means you’re walking in clean, oxygen rich air, and that’s only ever a good thing for your health!
And then there’s the D-limonenes and other terpenes produced by trees which not only give the forest it’s distinctive smell, but are also compounds that decrease inflammation – which is great news for asthma, COPD, eczema and psoriasis sufferers. These anti inflammatory properties have also been linked to benefits for the brain and nervous system, liver and pancreas, and scientific studies have shown that forest bathing increases immunity, decreases the risk of cancer, and helps you recover from illness faster. Forest Bathing has been shown to significantly decrease blood pressure, stress levels and pulse rate, meaning that the risk of heart attack is reduced, and mood is increased, as well as giving you more energy and helping with better sleep. Could it get any better?!
But don’t worry if you don’t have a forest handy – even spending time under a single tree for a while has benefits – so get out into your local park/street/garden and start making friends with your local tree 🙂
Pop on over to my facebook page to see the video accompanying this blog, http://www.facebook.com/mobilemassagetherapyuk, as there is some evidence that even looking at a forest can have positive effects 🙂
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