Forest Therapy is part of a global effort to tend to the stressful conditions of living in modern industrialized civilization. It is inspired by Shinrin-Yoku, a term coined in Japan in the 1980’s, which translates to Forest Bathing and is a prominent feature of preventative medicine and healing in Japan. A plethora of studies have been done demonstrating how nature is proven to be powerful medicine in treating stress-related illnesses. Some trees have been shown to emit cancer-fighting medicinal chemicals that can be absorbed by simply spending time relaxing near them. There is scientific evidence of a variety of health benefits such as:
- reduced stress
- lowered cortisol levels
- reduced blood pressure
- increased natural killer disease-fighting cells (NK cells)
- increased energy
- improved sleep and mood.
You can find a list of these research studies HERE.
Forest Therapy is about relaxing, unplugging and deepening our relationship with nature and each other. Unlike outdoor recreation such as hiking, this is a practice of slowing down as opposed to one of exertion. Unlike a nature walk, this is a practice of simply noticing and does not require any naturalist training or outdoor experience. The idea is to foster a relationship with nature by taking more time to wander, notice, wonder, inquire, rest, and reciprocate.
As a Forest Therapy Guide, I open the door for nature connection and reconnection by facilitating a carefully structured offering of gentle prompts to support moving out of our thinking brain and into our body by engaging our senses. When done over time, this practice can broaden our awarenesses and support health and healing for not only humans but also for the trees, waters, and all the beings of the natural world, also known as the more-than-human world.
All of my walks begin with Land Acknowledgments. I always start by honoring Ancestors and Indigenous Peoples who have and continue to tend the Land where we walk. Expressing gratitude and appreciation for the Land and all the beings sets the tone for reciprocity. Reciprocity in nature can take many forms and is different for everyone.
Nature and Land connection is an ancient practice. Seeking guidance and healing in the natural world has been practiced by most cultures throughout history throughout the world.
Toadstool Walks are inclusive to all people and offer support in finding one’s own way towards experiencing belonging to the natural world.