Forest or Nature Therapy is an upcoming global movement in the health and wellness fields that in its most simplistic, means immersing oneself with the natural world for a deeper connection to our inner self and the planet that we call home.
The term Forest Therapy or Shrinrin Yoku, (Forest Bathing or taking in the forest atmosphere) emerged in Japan in the 1980s. Its purpose was to relieve the tech- boom burnout that occurred as many moved from rural lands to a city life with indoor jobs and became overly stressed, depressed, and ill. The idea was for the government to research the health benefits of being in nature, predominately in the forest.
This research was twofold serving another valuable purpose, which was to promote interest in the protection and value of the country’s vast forests. With logging on the decline, shifting focus to the health benefits that the forests could offer proved to be a win win situation.
In the 1990s, researchers began actively studying the physiological, psychological, and psycho-spiritual benefits of forest bathing that provided scientific facts to what we inherently already know; being in nature is good for us on many levels. This way of being mindful in nature proved itself as hoped, by reducing stress, elevating mood, and decreasing physiological complaints.
This research began expanding across other countries bringing back what many cultures have long revered; a healthy relationship with the natural world is a crucial part of human health and well-being.
Today in the western world, Forest Therapy and Nature Therapy are often interchangeable in meaning and have become increasingly popular in a culture that seems to be searching for a missing link of our identity.
It is my hope that by bringing this practice more alive in our world we will develop a stronger love for our planet while returning home to the true nature of ourselves.