Embracing the art of Shinrin-Yoku

Shinrin Yoku book

I’ve always loved Nature and how being in Nature makes me feel. This feeling prompted my training as an environmental biologist and subsequent years of working within nature conservation organisations. What has stayed and grown within me is the desire to help others to experience this sense of well-being when they are in nature too.  More and more evidence is becoming available about the health and well-being effects of nature.   ‘Ecotherapy’ is now becoming mainstream, and some NHS services are commissioning ‘social prescribing’, that is, prescribing activities which benefit the health of patients – ecotherapy is high on this list.  I love the multi-sensory approach to mindfulness in nature – bringing all our senses into the experience of being fully present. As we walk into a forest, seeing, listening, smelling, tasting and touching, we bring our body’s rhythms into step with nature. I recently spent time on the edge of Dartmoor immersed in woodlands, on a Shinrin-Yoku practitioner training course – and am now learning more and more about it, so that I can bring it into my teaching practice later this year. Shinrin -Yoku, or the art of Forest Bathing was introduced as a national health programme in Japan in 1982, and is now practised regularly by millions of Japanese people. Evidence has shown that just a 2 hour Forest Bathing immersion, connecting to nature using all your 5 senses offers a vast array of benefits. Shinrin-Yoku is described as being like a bridge. By opening our senses it bridges the gap between us and the natural world. it has been proven that Shinrin-Yoku can: Reduce blood pressure, Lower stress, Improve cardiovascular and metabolic health, Lower blood-sugar levels, Improve concentration and memory, Lift depression, Improve pain thresholds, Improve energy, Boost the immune system, with an increase in the count of the body’s natural killer (NK) cells, Boost anti-cancer protein production, Help you to lose weight. WOW! By 2050, it is estimated that 75% of the human population will live in cities, and yet we are at heart, part of the natural world. 

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