Need to recover from a long day at the office? The Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” coined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 1982, could help. A form of meditation, Shinrin-yoku entails soaking in the forests’ scents, sights, and sounds to promote physiological and psychological health. Ben Page, a certified forest therapy guide and founder of Shinrin Yoku LA, explained to the Washington Post how it differs from other outdoor activities like nature walks, which are usually focused on education, and nature hikes, which are usually focused on destination: “A Shinrin-yoku walk’s objective is to give participants an opportunity to slow down, appreciate things that can only be seen or heard when one is moving slowly, and take a break from the stress of their daily lives.” The guided meditations led by Shinrin Yoku LA aim to help forest bathers open their senses and become more present. While the workshops provide guided and group meditations, Shinrin-yoku can also be a solo experience if that’s more your style.
The reported benefits of the practice are in line with research linking meditation to reduced blood pressure and stress. In other research, being in nature was shown to positively affect the mind: one study found that people who walked in nature, versus in an urban setting, had fewer ruminative thoughts—a risk factor for depression and other mental illnesses. The exact mechanisms of Shinrin-yoku are still unclear, but the growing number of forest bathers taking to the trees indicates that, for them, it provides peace of mind.
Source: Washington Post