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Forest Bathing 森林浴

Taking off my shoes and walking barefoot on the soft green moss I remembered. It beckoned me to lay down and gaze up through the trees to the skies above. I remembered how I was called "Nature Boy" and would spend hours lying on the ground or on big tree branches gazing up to the heavens. Our friend Yasuyo Nishitani guided us to a shrine in the forest where the soft green bed of moss invited us to lay back and create a space in our busy lives and just be present in the wonder of nature. Our feelings were complex, as nature has unleashed its fury not far from here in devastating storms. Yet here it is quiet and peaceful and we are filled with awe at nature's beauty and the sense that we are part of it.

Nature therapy approaches have roots in many cultures throughout history. In Japan, 森林浴 (shinrin-yoku) means being in the forest atmosphere" or literally, "forest bathing." It is a form of preventive health care and healing using the power of nature for its calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits. This intuitive knowledge is being reinforced by scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time in a living forest. We know that so many people today in different parts of the world live over-civilized lives and can discover that going back to nature is is going home.

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