Forest Bathing: Just another fancy name for walking slowly in the woods?
In short, the answer is yes! One of the main objectives of our nature-based resort is simply to reconnect people to the outdoors in a way that inspires a re-integration of certain habits that humans have benefited from for thousands of years.
An amazing development is that we now have a much deeper understanding of why so many of these "old-school" ways of living supported our mental fitness and happiness. As such, part of our mission is educating our guests on the what, why and how behind the different experiences that we will offer. We also want to add intentionality to the equation, such that guests understand a broader purpose behind each activity to ultimately take certain practices home ... and spread the news!
So, while people had been taking walks in the woods for centuries, we now have studies that specifically prove how such activity reduces blood pressure, lowers cortisol levels (our stress response), and improves concentration and memory. In fact, a chemical released by trees and plants, called phytoncides, has been found to actually boost the immune system which reduces the chances of viral infection – particularly relevant in today’s world!
In the early 1980s, Japan decided to formalize specific best-practice techniques for connecting with nature through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. They branded it “forest bathing” or “Shinrin-Yoku”. The government created the Japanese Forest Therapy Society and, with over 70% of its country under forest cover, officially designated 62 healing forest areas.
This practice was so beneficial to modern living that it has spread to the U.S., and we now have the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs (https://www.natureandforesttherapy.org/) based in California. This non-profit provides extensive training for people to become certified Forest Therapy Guides. Beyond our borders, there are also official forest therapy programs in at least 25 countries across four continents.
One of the most important aspects of our project will be the restoration, rejuvenation and preservation of forests on the property. When completed, our 550-acre nature resort will be home to the largest wellness campus in the United States with close to 90% under forest cover.
So, if you want to boost your immune system and decrease stress, spend some time in the forest…
- Seeing the sunlight filter through the branches of a tree
- Listening to the birds singing
- Tasting the freshness of the air as you take deep breaths
- Smelling the fragrance of the forest and breathing in the natural aromatherapy
- Placing your hands on the trunk of a tree or dipping your fingers into a stream
…and reap the health benefits!