Nature Bathing / Forest Therapy / Forest Bathing
Nature Connection / Nature Immersion
Shinrin-yoku / 森林浴
Nature Bathing is the opportunity to discover the uniquely individual Medicine offered each one of us by our natural environment - whether this is the bush, forest, wetland, meadow, coastal, ocean, river, lake, mountain, desert, park, garden or any other edgezone, wild place or landscape - ie. anywhere there is existence and life form of any kind.
It is inspired by the mainstream Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku. While Shinrin-yoku is practised in Forest environments, Nature Bathing or Nature Therapy can be experienced anywhere, even in the city green-spaces.
The results are very similar although research shows us that different environments can have more specific benefits depending on the location and prevailing eco-systems and life forms present in each place.
Nature Bathing is a simple practice based on paying attention by slowing down enough to witness 'what is' in any given moment, and connecting with this in a way that is pleasurable, nurturing and real for us. In witnessing that we are a part of and not separate from a larger whole, we find an integration, balance and appreciation that can be deeply transformational and healing in a world where separation and disconnection are rapidly becoming the status quo.
As beings that have evolved over millennia – living in and being fed, nurtured and supported by Nature – the growing body of research indicates that we still really need to find a way to touch base with our wilder selves and maintain a connection with Nature in order to stay healthy and live balanced lives.
Nature and Forest Therapy recognises this and offers a practical and direct experience of immersion in Nature, where Nature is the therapist, and the guide opens the door to the senses and the simple discovery and witnessing of what is taking place.
This is at once playful, rejuvenating and can be deeply healing as we reconnect and remember we are a part of something we have often lost touch with.
So Nature and Forest Therapy is a gentle way of experiencing Nature directly through our senses, helping us to slow down enough so we can get out of our head space and reconnect with our heart sense and our bodies. This allows us to discover what is happening in the present moment both inside and out, and we witness each other in this process so our stories can be expressed and heard.
森林浴 Shinrin-Yoku is a movement that was birthed in Japan in the mid 1980's as a means to address the issue of a rapidly growing number of people who were dying from stress related health issues - termed 'karoshi'.
There was also concern about the rapidly disappearing National forests, highly valued in traditional Japanese culture. Shinrin-Yoku loosely translates as 'Forest Bathing' or taking in the essence of the forest through the senses, and this practice is proven to benefit us in many ways.
The Japanese government invested heavily into medical research on the benefits of mindful sensory time in Nature, and now have a network of 22 specially designated National Forest Therapy trails around the country. It is a research-based practice that is growing rapidly in various forms around the world – hence the birth of Nature and Forest Therapy Guiding and NFTG.org in California – a global organisation that is now training and growing an international community of certified guides.
In today's world where technology dominates the way we work and play, the natural environment is largely seen as a resource to be used and taken advantage of rather than something to be cared for and nurtured in a reciprocal way.
Forest Therapy is a rapidly expanding global movement that seeks to re-dress this by introducing us to a simple practice that we can undertake in our everyday lives.
This experience helps to reconnect us to our planet and all the beings who call her home in a way that is respectful, compassionate and recognises we are all part of a living whole where every being matters.
We recognise a spirit of 'wild tending' rather than 'leave no trace' as honoured by all our ancestors.....
Nature is not a museum, but rather a living matrix of 'Interbeings' who all depend upon one another in order to thrive, and we are a part of this too.