A year-round invitation to participate in relationship with the more than human world.
Forest Therapy, also known as forest bathing, is a synthesis of ancient traditions and modern research referring to the practice of spending time in forested areas for the purpose of enhancing health, wellness, and happiness.
Humans have long recognized the healing properties of spending time with trees. In recent centuries we have rapidly shifted towards urbanized and digitized environments that do not provide our bodies with the biological stimuli required for heath. Forest therapy is a research-based practice that connects people with sunlight, fresh air, and organic compounds such as terpenes and phytoncides that are essential to maintaining our health. Studies demonstrate numerous health benefits, especially in supporting the cardiovascular and immune systems. Medical research also demonstrates that forest bathing supports a reduction of cortisol (stress) levels and blood pressure, stabilizes and improves mood, and offers increased mental focus. Beneficial phytoncides, are also known to decrease depression and anxiety.
In 1982, Forest Bathing became part of a national public health program in Japan and continues to be a large part of preventative healing in Japanese medicine. When Amos Clifford encountered the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku along with the research associated with it, he was excited about the prospect of our healthcare system helping people reconnect with nature. He founded the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides in 2012 with the aim to create a culturally neutral framework that can be easily adapted to a variety of environments.
Forest Therapy takes a mindfulness based approach to deepening reciprocal relationships with the more than human world. Unlike many outdoor recreation activities it is a practice of slowing down, instead of exerting oneself. This practice can expand awareness and support health, not only for humans but also for the trees, water, and other beings in the forest. Besides being a deeply healing experience, Forest Therapy is building a networked community of friends and activists who are making a global impact. Hosting a walk at your home, work, educational institution, or local organization is a meaningful way to connect with the human and more than human community around you. Forest Therapy walks are a great way to gather outdoors while socially distancing. Contact us for more information about hosting a walk.
Caitlin Horigan is a Certified Guide through the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy.