The Forest 🌳 Bathing 🚿Edition

Last night, Blake and I did something so basic it was almost radical….we went FOREST BATHING! That’s right.

STORY: Last night, Blake and I did something so basic it was almost radical….we went FOREST BATHING! That’s right. We loitered in the forests of Japan for hours for the reported health & wellbeing benefits. Well, technically, we signed up on a whim for this Airbnb 'experience' entitled, "Forest Meditation & Hike Fushimi inari 冥想" which was led by a Japanese monk who taught us to chant & meditate in the mountains as the sunset!
***Sidenote: if you haven’t tried an Airbnb ‘experience’, get on that! Run by local guides, they tend to be more personal than the standard TripAdvisor tours.

To back up for a second, WTF is forest bathing?

Besides being hands down my latest obsession (!)... it’s a term coined by the Japanese, or as they say, “shinrin-yoku”--> translating to ‘forest bath’ and was developed back in the 1980s. Since then, the country has dumped a boatload of money & time into studying the measurable effects that being in nature has on our body and mind. Some of their findings, our Airbnb tour guide referenced like these phytoncides released from trees and plants:

Although people had been taking walks in the country’s forests for centuries, new studies showed that such activity could reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol levels and improve concentration and memory. A chemical released by trees and plants, called phytoncides, was found to boost the immune system. As more research highlighted the benefits of shinrin-yoku, the Japanese government incorporated it into the country’s health programme. Getting back to nature: how forest bathing can make us feel better-The Guardian

Most notable for me are the reported effects on SLEEP as a result of Forest Bathing:

“There is an improvement in sleep (an average increase by 15 percent after a two-hour forest walk), a boost of the immune system and in cardiovascular health, and better parasympathetic response (rest-and-recover). The health and emotional benefits are plentiful.” Suffering From Nature-Deficit Disorder? Try Forest Bathing. -NPR

So how did it all this fancy Forest Bathing work? I’ll take you on a picture tour…

1) We hiked Fushimi (aka that orange thing you’ve seen on Instagram):


2) We watched the sunset pretty much in silence:


3) Our monk took us to a cool perch by a brook and gave us a card with Sanskrit words on it. He led us in a chant that I was into since there’s a decent amount of research around chanting, humming, & singing to improve your Heart Rate Variability scores.


4) After we learned two different meditation styles (counting & rhythmic breathing) and we all meditated together in the middle of the Kyoto forest.

5) The walk back down the mountain we felt inexplicably rejuvenated.
***Sidenote: we just got the new iPhone 11...how crazy is the night mode?!

TRY

  • 🌅Resource: Approach, 20 minutes a day (at least!) in your closest park or whatever sliver of nature, you can get your hands on.

READ

  • ☀️Resource: Book List, Top Ten Books Forest Bathing Books
  • ☀️Resource: Audible Book, Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness **This is the book that I started listening to today! Here are a few key quotes: “As well as having a higher concentration of oxygen, the air in the forest is also full of phytoncides. Phytoncides are the natural oils within a plant and are part of the tree’s defense system. Trees release phytoncides to protect them from bacteria, insects, and fungi…”There is also a substance in the soil that we breathe in when we walk in the forest…a common and harmless bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae.” (This stimulates the immune system and our emotions.)”
  • ☀️Resource: Article, Suffering From Nature-Deficit Disorder? Try Forest Bathing - This NPR article does a nice job of laying out the stats of our current indoor lifestyle. For example, “An EPA study found that Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some air pollutants can be 2 times to 5 times higher than outdoors.” 😱

PRACTICE

  • 🌅Resource: NYC Classes, Tree Bath, How cool is this?! “We turn screen time into green time,” their website proclaims! I’m into it. :)
  • 📜Resource: Guided Walks, “Walk with a Doc” was founded in 2005, which now has 500 chapters where, as the name suggests, you walk with a doctor for your health!
  • 📜Resource: Park Prescription, “A Washington, D.C., pediatrician writes prescriptions for his patients to go to the park -- as do the more than 300 doctors and other health care providers who have signed on to his Park Rx America program.”