So I’ve set up an appointment to go “forest bathing” next week. Yep. I know, it sounds totally woo-woo. And I can’t believe I’m paying someone to do this. But it’s a hot topic right now, I’m a nature girl, and as an author of nature-focused books I want to experience it first hand. So.
It started in Japan. Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” Developed during the 1980s, it is becoming a scientifically proven method of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Studies have shown that it’s proven to work on blood pressure and overall health. They claim it also builds your immune system, helps recovery from surgery or stress, helps kids focus and elevates mood—and that’s just to name a few benefits. I swear, it’s the next coconut oil. Retreats and practitioners are springing up everywhere. But although I think it’s a good idea to get people outside more, it makes me sad. Befuddled and sad.
Do we really need to be taught how to slow down and enjoy the beauty of nature? Didn’t we grow up doing this? Didn’t we smell, touch and scramble our way through thickets of berries and paddle about in rivers and lakes? Do we really need to pay someone to say, “Slow down. Breathe. Smell the forest. Listen to the birds. Touch things. Enjoy it and savor it.” Wow. How out of touch are we? Do we really need to be taught this? Apparently yes.
According to the new book The Nature Fix, Florence Williams writes:
…recent research shows that the steady stress of urban living changes the brain in ways that can increase our odds of schizophrenia, anxiety and mood disorders…The renewed interest of late represents a convergence of ideas and events: the relentless march of obesity, depression and anxiety (even in affluent communities and despite more medication), the growing recognition of the role of the environment on genes, and the growing academic and cultural unease with our widening breach from the outdoors.”
In short, we are over-connected to overwhelm and need to get outside. So I’m going to pay someone to lead me in paths of peace and tranquility. But I’m already sold. I feel at home in nature, I feel rest when relaxing outside and my soul is happy while hiking. But maybe I’ll learn something new. Stay tuned.
If you like books with a nature theme—or know of a Dad who enjoys gardening and birds—check out my books, Gardening Mercies and Wings of Mercy. On Amazon.