Forest Bathing

August 23, 2018

Mount Madonna Center is situated among 355 acres of redwood trees and grasslands. The gorgeous redwood groves and multiple hiking trails make it an ideal location for "forest bathing." Japanese culture coined this term (shinrin-yoku) long ago and in the last 50 years more and more research has come out about the positive effects of ecotherapy, of which forest bathing is a form.

Recently, Karin Evans, a local writer for The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, published an article highlighting the art forest bathing. She focuses on Japanese medical doctor and researcher Qing Li's recent work which provides some great insights into this age old practice.

In the article, the following "How To" steps are offered:

"Find a spot. Depending where you are, find a good source of nature... 'Let your body be your guide. Listen to where it wants to take you,' Li says. Some people will respond to sunny glades, others to shadier places. Listen to your own wisdom.

Engage all your senses. 'Let nature enter through your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands, and feet,' says Li. Actively listen, smell, touch, and look. 'Drink in the flavor of the forest and release your sense of joy and calm.'

Don’t hurry. Slow walking is recommended for beginners. And it’s good to spend as much time as possible. You’ll notice positive effects after twenty minutes, says Li, but a longer visit, ideally four hours, is better.

Try different activities. Try doing yoga in the woods, or Tai chi, or meditation.

Appreciate the silence. One of the downsides of urban living is the constant noise. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a wooded area that’s free from human-produced sound. Silence is restorative, and a forest can have its own healing sound—rustling leaves, a trickle of water, birdsong. Spend a few quiet moments with a favorite tree. If nothing else, when we connect with nature we are reminded that we are part of a larger whole. And that, Li notes, can lead us to be less selfish and to think more of others."

To read the full article, click here.