Finding Mindfulness Among the Trees
Forest Therapy can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For a visual, just imagine an umbrella of healing called Forest Therapy. The handle of the umbrella is made up of elements of therapy including Forest Bathing, Shinrin-Yoku, and Forest Remedy. There’s lots of evidence and scientific data that support the forest as being a healing experience for us. Forest Bathing is a form of specific therapy offered in the forest. It originated in Japan in the 1980s as they sought solutions to the increased health issues affecting their workers. Remember, Japan rose from the ashes of World War II to become the world’s second-largest economy by the 1980s. They didn’t get there by sitting on their hands. They paid a price for their success as stress levels rose among workers pushed to their limits. Suicides also began to increase.
Forest cover roughly 67% of the of the land in Japan. Forests are essential to Japanese life in many ways, but especially in preventing mudslides from coming off the steep slopes into their fertile rice paddies. Japanese have long recognized their essential dependency on the forests. So, it was natural for them to turn to the forest as a solution to their stressed-out workforce. Forest Bathing or Shinrin-Yoku became a part of Japan’s national health program for reducing stress. In 1982 it was proposed by the Forest Agency of Japan as something to incorporate into a healthy lifestyle. Shinrin-Yoku was developed as a way to counteract an affliction called Karoshi or Death by Stress. Shinrin-Yoku was first described by Japan’s health minister in 1982 as “an activity where people relax by synchronizing or harmonizing with the forest.”
In Central Florida, Forest Remedy is a uniquely guided experience, centered around finding mindfulness through your senses in our regional forests and parks. Through my training as a certified forest remedy practitioner, I’ve learned how to help clients connect with the forest through their senses. This connection to the forest is naturally built into each of us.
This blog is an example of how I share with you the ways in which the forest is full of healing properties for each of us. When you look at the forest as a whole, it’s easy to see how the trees connect in the canopies and even some of their lower limbs. You’ve witnessed how birds, animals, and insects use this network of trees in their day-to-day lives, right? From protection to food, the forest is a network of survival to lots of birds, critters, and insects. While all this living is going on above ground in a forest, were you aware of the fibrous network the trees have among themselves under your feet?
Trees connect with each other under our feet through tiny fibrous strands called, mycelium. Through this underground network, trees communicate with one another and share nutrients at critical times. I like to think of mycelium as the tree’s unique, underground blog.
The next time you see a group of trees or take your dog for a walk through a forest, know that you are standing just above an amazing, massive network of evolutionary genius. One of the reasons forests are able to offer us the amazing healing gifts they do is due to this incredible, natural source of sharing going on just under the forest floor.
Here is an interesting blog post from Brainpickings.org about how trees communicate.
As this is our first blog, we want to know what you think. What would you like to see in the next one?