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Shinrin-Yoku [Nature
Posted on May 11, 2018 @ 09:52:00 AM by Paul Meagher

Shinrin-yoku is the Japanese term for forest bathing. I learned this as a result of reading a new book called Forest Bathing: How trees can help you find health and happiness (April, 2018) by the leading Japanese researcher in this area Dr. Qing Li.

The book is a joy to read. It includes lots of forest imagery from Japan and you can learn alot about Japan from his discussion of Japanese forest culture and the role that forests play in contemporary cities in Japan. They really do appear to take the concept of forest bathing seriously in Japan with certain forests certified specifically for forest therapy.

Forest bathing sounds like it might be new-age tripping, but Dr. Qing Li reports alot of the research he has done over the years measuring levels of stress hormones, levels cancer killing immune cells, sleep duration, mood changes and other aspects of physical and mental health that changes as a result of exposure to forests. How much exposure, where, when, and why are all discussed in the book. You can get a preview of the art and science of Shinrin-Yoku by watching Kirsten Dirksen's interview with Dr. Qing Li.

I was under some stress this week and decided this morning that I needed to do some Shinrin-Yoku. I found a logging road leading through a young forest to an old pasture full of wild apple trees. When I exited the young forest I was drawn to a small stream that I wanted to follow back to the headwaters. I never got there but following a small stream through a wild apple tree forest is my idea of beautiful so it was an immersive way for me to forest bathe. I did manage to forget about my worries and stresses. On my drive back home I also had a breakthrough on the problem that was causing me the stress. Appears that stressing about a problem may block solving the problem. Shinrin-Yoku has many benefits.

Shinrin-Yoku is an approach to mental and physical health that is becoming more relevant as we spend more time indoors, in urban environments, and with our electronic devices. Shinrin-Yoku is about using all your senses again to experience nature. It would appear that forest trails between 2 and 4 kilometers offer a good dose of forest therapy. Doing it in the afternoon may offer more benefits than in the morning but for me the morning is when I find it easiest to do. You don't need to live in a rural area to practice Shinrin-Yoku as many cities support nice walking trails through wooded areas. Some forests are denser with trees and better places to practice Shinrin-Yoku. One interesting figure in the book is the 40 most beautiful forests in the world which might be a good bucket list for those wanting to do some forest bathing tourism.

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