Forest Bathing: a hiking alternative that connects you with nature
“I’m standing in a wooded area of Seattle’s Discovery Park. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, my eyes are closed. I’m with Michael Stein-Ross, a certified forest therapy guide, who is leading me through a sort of meditation by asking me to become aware of each of my senses. This is my first time forest bathing.”
This is from Rachel Belle’s recent KIRO7 Radio interview with Michael Stein-Ross. Read her full article at MyNorthwest.com.
The Puget Sound region is fortunate to have had visionary leaders during the creation of Seattle’s Discovery Park. The Daniel Urban Kiley Master Plan produced an open space “of quiet and tranquility for the citizens of this city—a sanctuary where they might escape the turmoil of the city and enjoy the rejuvenation which quiet and solitude and an intimate contact with nature can bring.” With the national discussion about Forest Bathing becoming more prominent, parks like Seattle’s Discovery Park provide important space for quiet rejuvenation which is so important to our health.
The Atlantic calls attention to Forest Bathing by writing “The popularity of forest bathing in the U.S. is unsurprising, particularly in metropolitan areas where people may wish to get outside more often than they wish to go outdoors. To many, the former sounds closer to a stroll in the park than a trek up a mountain. Forest bathing sits in the middle of this false dichotomy, one where people associate being in nature with roughing it or struggle to think of experiencing nature as relaxing. Instead, forest bathers intentionally go outside to relax with nature, and allow nature to help them relax.
In 1982, Japan made shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” a part of its national health program. The aim was to briefly reconnect people with nature in the simplest way possible. Go to the woods, breathe deeply, be at peace. Forest bathing was Japan’s medically sanctioned method of unplugging before there were smartphones to unplug from. Since shinrin-yoku’s inception, researchers have spent millions of dollars testing its efficacy; the documented benefits to one’s health thus far include lowered blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and stress hormones. “
The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT) is the leading global voice for forest bathing and forest therapy. Founded by Amos Clifford, ANFT offers guide training throughout the United States and the world.
If you are interested in becoming a certified forest therapy guide or are looking for more detailed information about the practice of shinrin-yoku, check out their website.