• Amanda C Vesty

Beginners Guide to Forest Bathing

1. WHAT IS FOREST BATHING?

The definition of Forest Bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is the act of spending time in a forest and opening your senses to the natural surroundings to experience feelings of peace and wellbeing. A forest bathing/shinrin yoku session involves a series of gentle activities or ‘invitations’ to deepen your connection with the natural world and yourself.



2. WHERE DOES SHINRIN-YOKU COME FROM?

Shinrin-yoku originated in the early 1980's in Japan. What has long been known by native peoples around the world has now been proven scientifically. Connecting to the natural world is good for us. The Japanese forestry commission who coined the term also noted that we are gradually losing that connection. This is why they developed Shinrin Yoku as a purposeful act of spending time in the forest to see, hear and feel nature around us. It originally started out as an initiative to reduce stress in men.


3. HOW DO I PRONOUNCE SHINRIN-YOKU?

It’s easy to pronounce by splitting it into syllables. ‘Shin’ as in the bone beneath your knee, ‘rin’ to rhyme with shin, ‘yo’ to rhyme with go and ‘ku’ to rhyme with who. Shin-rin-yo-ku.


4. HOW DO SHINRIN YOKU AND FOREST BATHING DIFFER?

They don’t they are different terns for the same thing. Forest Bathing is the English interpretation of shinrin-yoku. It is also known as forest therapy and is becoming better known outside Japan. The increasing pressures of modern life and led many to investigate the cause of our physical and mental ill health and correlated these with our disconnection from the natural world .


5. ISN’T FOREST BATHING JUST GOING FOR A WALK IN THE WOODS?

A walk in the woods is always recommended but Forest Bathing takes you to a different level of sensory awareness. It uses mindfulness and meditation techniques to allow you to open your senses to the natural world. The experience can be transformative. It is the journey, not the destination, that is important.


6. WHAT’S INVOLVED IN A FOREST BATHING EXPERIENCE?

Guided Forest Bathing is a simple journey which can have a surprisingly powerful effect. I guide you on a gentle walk through the forest, and offer ‘invitations’ to activities that heighten your sensory awareness. You step into the moment and feel a deep connection to the natural world. My sessions last one hour with an optional talking circle for half an hour afterwards. I also offer longer sessions for groups such as work outings to improve health and wellbeing in employees for example.



8. WHY IS FOREST BATHING GOOD FOR ME?

There are many scientifically proven health benefits associated with Forest Bathing/Shinrin Yoku. Your deepening connection with nature, some of the biological properties of the plants around you and the mindful activities all combine to bring physical and psychological benefits.

9. HOW DOES FOREST BATHING HELP MY PHYSICAL HEALTH?

Aside from the benefits of physical exercise, Forest Bathing boosts your immune system, speeds up recovery from illness and surgery and lowers your blood pressure.


10. HOW DOES FOREST BATHING HELP MY MENTAL WELLBEING?

Forest Bathing combines mindfulness techniques with the therapeutic powers of the natural environment. This has a positive effect on your mood, reduces stress, improves concentration and frees up creativity. It has also been shown to help with depression and anxiety.


11. ARE THERE ANY STUDIES THAT PROVE FOREST BATHING WORKS?

Yes. There is plenty of research that shows how spending time in nature is good for us. Helen Stokes-Lampard from the Royal College of GPs advises that getting outside can have a “really positive impact” on health. There have been many studies on forest bathing/ShinrinYoku including a recent meta study in Japan. It reviewed 20 trials, involving 732 participants, which demonstrated that blood pressure levels in the forest environment were significantly lower than those in the non-forest environment.


12. WHERE CAN I TRY FOREST BATHING IN Cheshire and Staffordshire?

You can take part in Forest Bathing sessions with me. My guided experiences invite you to explore techniques and exercises that access the deeper benefits of Forest Bathing/Shinrin-Yoku.


13. HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DO FOREST BATHING?

Connection to nature is so important to us as a species for our mental and physical wellbeing. Our lifestyles remove us from the forests we were at one with for thousands of years. Any time spent out in nature is time well spent. You need at least an hour immersed in nature, ideally on a regular basis for it to take effect. I offer sessions during the week that last an hour with an optional half hour approximate talking circle afterwards.


14. WHY AM I OFFERING FOREST BATHING?

I am passionate about reconnecting people to the natural world of which they are a part. I also love trees. As the founder of Ancient and Sacred trees I believe in connecting people, trees and nature for benefit woodland, wildlife and wellbeing for all. Country born and bred I have a deep connection with and love for the land. I also have a disability so have first-hand experience of the benefits that forest bathing can bring. In offering these sessions I help others as I help myself. Spending time in the forest has scientifically proven therapeutic effects. I want people to reconnect with nature for the benefit of their own health and wellbeing and for that of our native landscape.


I hope this has answered all your questions about Shinrin Yoku Forest Bathing. If you would like your own immersive experience in Forest Therapy join one of my termly courses or get in touch to arrange to an outing for your group. Click here to find out more about Jack In The Green Forest Bathing


Amanda x