Forest Bathing in The Otways
Shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing”, is a scientifically validated therapy that is popular in Japan, and now being promoted in Australia.
In Japan, a popular practice is something called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku. Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses. It is a researched based therapeutic modality with many health benefits, and is impacting the world.
It is proven to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness and free up creativity, as well as lower heart rate and blood pressure, boost the immune system and accelerate recovery from illness.
Qii house has an INFTA internationally accredited rainforest Forest Therapy Trail on the property; “The Zaborin Walk” meaning a place to sit among the trees to forget.
The ancient symbol of the Tree has been found to represent physical and spiritual nourishment, transformation and liberation, union and fertility. … They are seen as powerful symbols of growth and resurrection.
We provide guidelines on how to practice the art, however a Forest Therapy Guide may be arranged on request.
Read more about forest bathing here:
Destination Happiness visit and discuss Forest Bathing
Five of the best places to bathe in the forest
How Forest Bathing Boosts Immunity
Imagine that the sounds, sights and aromas of a forest could heal your body, mind and heart. Not the stuff of fairytales, according to Dr Qing Li, associate professor at Nippon Medical School, Tokyo and president of the Japanese Society of Forest Medicine. Li is at the forefront of research on “forest bathing” (shinrin-yoku), a Japanese therapy now being promoted by Healthy Parks Healthy People Central, an Australian initiative aimed at connecting people to nature. The therapy has been scientifically proven to boost immune function and mood and hailed as a legitimate therapy in preventing hypertension, depression, stress and even cancer.
Since 2005, Li and his research team have studied the effects of walking in forests upon human health. Li found that people who undertook a three day/two night trip to a forest area experienced a significant increase in the activity and number of NK (natural killer) cells – immune cells with a major role in destroying tumours and virally infected cells. In the study, published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, subjects also recorded a rise in intracellular anti-cancer proteins and continued to experience increased NK cell activity 30 days after the trip.
Other studies conducted by Li and his team found that forest bathing reduced blood pressure, blood glucose and the stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. Subjects who undertook a day trip to a forest park reported reduced anxiety, depression, anger, fatigue and confusion and an increase in vigour in a Profile of Mood States test. Li says the effects of forest bathing on mood and blood pressure can be attributed to an increase in the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for relaxation and renewal) and a decrease in sympathetic nervous system activity (responsible for the fight-or-flight response). Studies also show that ‘green exercise’ has superior health benefits to similar exercise conducted in a man-made environment. For example, Li and his research team have observed reduced blood pressure and increased NK cell activity in forest walkers – but not in control groups who performed the same amount of exercise in urban areas.
Natural Healing Powers of Forest Bathing
Li believes the therapy works through the five senses, but particularly through the action of inhaled phytoncides – antimicrobial essential oils emitted from plants and trees to protect them from insects, predators, and rot – describing it as “similar to a natural aromatherapy.” The healing effects are freely accessible, and as benefits begin to appear after as little as 40 minutes, simply spending leisurely time in the forest is the only requirement. Feel the breeze against your skin, listen to the murmur of running water or chirping birds, taste and inhale the aromas of foliage, gaze at the trees, and touch the texture of bark and leaves.
Although research has mainly been conducted in Japanese forests, Li believes “any forests should have similar effects.” Forest bathing, a term coined in 1982 by the Japanese Forest Agency, encompasses the broader fields of forest medicine and eco-psychology (nature guided therapy). Li views forest bathing as “a new preventive medicine that will contribute to the reduction of lifestyle related diseases and even reduce health expenditures.”
Some researchers also question the effects of modern urban living from an evolutionary perspective and believe that stress, together with loss of vitality and health, may be a potential outcome of being separated from the natural environment our physiology evolved in. While we’ve always known a walk in the forest makes us feel good, finally science is telling us why.
Maximise Your Experience
- Choose a forest or park with a good density of trees. For best results, trees should be a minimum of 5 metres tall on land with a tree canopy of over 10 percent and an area greater than 0.5 ha.
- Absorb the forest through your five senses – smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste.
- Avoid exhausting yourself. Rest if you feel tired, drink water or tea if thirsty.
- Take your time. Sit and enjoy the scenery or read a book. The idea is to let the forest work its magic on you.
- If possible, take a spa after the experience.
- For optimum results, a two night/three day forest trip is best.
- For a whole day of forest bathing, stay in the forest about four hours and walk about five kilometres. For half days, stay in the forest about two hours and walk about two and a half kilometres.
Forest Bathing General Guidelines
- Let yourself be guided by invitations, rather than accomplishing exercises.
- Work with the forest as a partner, rather than as a setting for an activity.
- Your focus should be on a sense of embodiment and vivid sensory experience.
- Minimize efforts to achieve anything.
- Ideally your walks will last between two and four hours. This allows enough time for the mind and body to slow down and become relaxed.
- You won’t go very far, often only half a km or less.
- Use conversation in a minimal, but supportive way.
- Your primary goal is not to get a workout. It’s more like playtime with a meditative feeling. If you find yourself working out, just pause for a moment of stillness, then proceed again slowly.
- While you can forest bathe in any natural environment, ideally your walks should take place in a wooded environment, with streams and meadows and minimal intrusion from human-made sounds such as traffic or construction.
- The trail should be accessible and easy to walk on.
- Go unplugged, without technological barriers between your senses and the forest.
- For example, consider leaving your cell phone behind, or only use it in ways that can help, rather than hinder your connection.
- Don’t let concepts such as “mindfulness” or “walking meditation” trick you into making efforts to experience anything other than what the forest offers.
- Don’t let the experiences of others or outcomes such as the feelings of awe described in research studies trick you into trying to have those same experiences.
- Let each walk be its own experience; avoid trying to re-create prior positive experiences.
- Trust that when you skilfully open yourself to the forest, it will work with you in a positive way.
- Consider ending each walk with a snack and tea.
Feel the Vibe and Come Alive!
Qii house is an out of box experience. Savor the moment in fresh mountain air, in the ancient otways eco-system, where focus is shifted to the art of living in harmony with nature’s rhythm.
Forest Therapy Insights
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