Image by zhang kaiyv

Forest Experience

Forest Bathing + Meeting Trees

The forest is resoundingly about connection and community from the most microscopic interaction to the biggest tree housing multitudes, sharing its resources through root networks, and finally by becoming a nurse log. 

The experience of being in the forest, in the trees, is life-affirming and juicy good all the way through our being. We humans have always been deeply connected with trees. We know trees deep in our bones.

 

Trees have been our refuge, our community and religious centers, our therapists and healers. They have been the place to bring our entreaties in hope of being blessed. They have been a vibrant and living connection between us and the earth and all life forms.

 

Yet today, too many of us are disconnected from nature and see nature and us as two distinct systems; yet, we are nature. What else could we be? We have moved away from the daily nurturing and joy that comes from living closely with nature, with trees, and we (and the planet) are suffering for it.

Image by Steven Kamenar

In the mid-1980s in Japan scientists began researching the differences in people who spent time in the forest rather than in constant urban settings. They found that we have built-in responses to both threats as well as to heart-opening peace, joy, and health which operate in different areas of our brains. They found that in people who spent even a few minutes in the forest, with trees, that their cortisol, blood pressure, and heart rates lowered, immune systems strengthened, and mood issues such as anxiety, depression and ADD decreased while dopamine and other feel-good chemicals increased.

 

Those who spent time in the trees regularly had greater and more sustained benefits as their brains' connections to health and feeling great grew. This time in the trees was named Forest Bathing and is a somatic full sensory immersion in the magic of the woods.