As human beings, we have evolved in the natural world – yet over the years we have lost this connection.
One of the ways we can combat the negative impact of our hectic 21st century lives is to simply spend time in nature. We know from our own experience that, when we do this, it brings a calmness which helps us to feel refreshed and invigorated. However, science is now catching up and proving what we already know to be true – in fact, it shows our brain behaves differently when we are in nature and this positively impacts how we think and feel. Spending even a short time in nature is proven to result in decreased stress, anxiety, anger and blood pressure and increased positivity, focus and energy levels.
The scientific evidence is so compelling that countries including Japan have designated healing forests where people go to find peace, stillness and balance – to help them relax and restore their health and well-being. Trained Guides lead regular walks to help people benefit from the therapy offered by the forests, known as Forest Therapy – sometimes called ‘forest bathing’ or Shinrin Yoku … literally ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’. In addition to all of this, many trees secrete natural chemicals called phytoncides to protect themselves – and science shows that when we breathe them in, or absorb them through our skin, they boost our immune system, fight viruses and enhance our cancer-fighting ability.
What can I expect on a Be … Naturally forest therapy walk?
Our Forest Therapy Walks take place in stunning ancient woodlands, where we walk together slowly, quietly and gently. These are not ‘power walks’ or energetic hikes – in fact we may not cover a great distance at all. Nor will we teach you the identity of the birds, trees and flowers we may encounter.
Our aim is simply to walk with mindful awareness – slowing down and pausing to notice what we can see, hear, feel, smell and perhaps even taste. This enables us to let go of everyday worries, to become fully aware and to connect deeply with nature – leading to a profound sense of stillness, peace and harmony. And when we connect with nature, we also create the chance for it to heal us from the impact of our often busy and stressful lives, greatly benefitting our physical and mental health and well-being.
Science shows us that regular, repeated exposure to forest atmosphere increases the benefits incrementally – the more often you walk, the greater the positive impact on your health and well-being.
Seven walks in seven weeks is an ideal “dose” of forest therapy – Shinrin Yoku.org