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Forest Wellness - Basking in the Environment

Nov 19, 2014 10:06AM ● Published by Erica Shames

by Bill Rozday     

I walked through the trees, at the crest of the last wild country in Pennsylvania, and came to the sound of running water, a muted sound far over the side of the crest and deep within the trunks. It sounded like a product of the watershed structure itself; in its faintness, as though originating above the earth in the tree branches or below the earth within rock.

The Japanese refer to my sensuous walk as Shinrin-yoku, or "forest bathing," a basking in the environment of the forest: recent studies point to its significant psychological and physical benefits.  It is poised to become the “next big thing” in nature-centered health practices. 

From the Source   

I spoke with Amos Clifford, foremost authority on Shinrin-yoku in America, in order to focus on its background and benefits and to gain an understanding of what goes on during these popular sessions.  Forest basking is unusual in that it follows no prescribed format and draws a response that is highly individualized, as if asserting that the forest was created for each particular person.    

The formalized existence of Shinrin-yoku dates to 1982, when the Forest Agency of Japan proposed it as an official movement. That country now maintains 48 “forest therapy bases” and the Japanese Society of Forest Medicine oversees much of the research in the field.

Shinrin-yoku derives from Zen Buddhism, and Amos Clifford learned the practice from mentors of Japanese lineage in California, where he now conducts walks near Sonoma, CA.  The careful mentoring process he underwent taught him the necessity of a guided experience. As he explains, "A person could try to learn this herself but would only create obstacles that slow the process. One 30-40-minute guided session is worth 10 done alone."

Clifford’s Shinrin-yoku walks are planned on terrain with 60 to 70 percent forest cover, level ground, a water source and a restroom. He considers these elements essential for a comfortable interaction with nature.

His sessions could be described as casual foraging expeditions.  Participants take several hours to cover a mere mile or two and share little objects they discover with each other, so that they open up to both nature and people. Clifford slows their pace when he notices the hurry that carries over from contemporary living.

Clifford draws a distinction between Shinrin-yoku and interpretive nature walks, which identify plants and animals by name. “When we name something, we tend to think we know it when we really don’t,” he says.  He prescribes a simpler, child-like approach of discovery.

The trigger that releases stress on these walks varies, and invites diverse behaviors such as quiet contemplation and simply sitting on the ground, Clifford explains. There is a loose objective of brewing tea from herbs such as elderberry or from fir needles, but plenty of time to savor the fragrant oils from the plants while gathering them.

I asked Amos what particular stressor was most commonly cured by these sessions. “It’s the constant presence of media, I would say—emails, Internet, all of it.  Just several hours away from it is beneficial.”

His clientele consists chiefly of women in their 40s, 50s and 60s drawn to the feminine quality of nature.  As they escape their stress, “there are tears,” he says.

Studies point to the presence of numerous chemicals called phytoncides—120 of them in one study area—infusing forest atmosphere. These chemicals reduce blood pressure and blood sugar. Further, they enhance the immune system by activating white blood cells. Beyond such well-documented physical benefits, Clifford sees a new frontier of psychological study.  “We know these physical reactions, but what about the connection of the mind to health?” he queries.

At Sharon Riegner’s Beauty Wellness Salon in Stowe, near Pottstown, PA, Sharon offers the healing benefits of Shinrin-yoku to mobility-challenged attendees of her workshops. She imports the walk to her living room by gathering the source materials of essential oils and giving her clients the chance to touch and smell them.

Riegner, who plans her next workshop in the spring of 2015, provides convincing proof of the healing power of essential oils found in the atmosphere. She has her attendees wear a pulse oximeter, a medical device that fits over a finger, and has them breathe the scents of these oils.  She documents the increase in oxygen levels from the aroma of lavender, for example.

Amos Clifford’s organization intends to train 1,000 mentors within the next two years to disperse this forest wisdom across America. He stresses that the practice works as well beside a freeway as in the wilderness, so there is much Shinrin-yoku in the future. It’s a marriage of intuition and science that gives promise to us all.

Bill Rozday writes frequently about man-earth relations.

Resources

Amos Clifford - www.Shinrin-Yoku.org 

Sharon Riegner - www.SharonRiegner.com

Last Child in the Woods, By Richard Louv

$14.95, Algonquin Books

Cutting edge studies point to direct exposure to nature as essential for a hcild’s healthy physical and emotional development. This new edition updates the growing body of evidence linking the lack of nature in children’s lives and the rise in obesity, attention disorders and depression. 





The Nature Principle, By Richard Louv

$14.95, Algonquin Books

The time has come for us all to reenvision a future that puts aside scenarios of environmental and social apocalypse and instead taps into the restorative powers of the natural world. Louv shows how nature can boost mental acuity and creativity; promote health and wellness; help us build smarter and more sustainable businesses, communities and economies; and strengthen human bonds.

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  • Culture Cafe- Nepal

    03/02/2018
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Join us for an evening of storytelling, song, tastings, and crafts from cultures around the world...


  • Who would have predicted, when Riverdance exploded into world-wide popularity in 1995, that 22 ye...


  • chttp://engage.pcad.edu/winter2018

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Young Artists Academy for Grades 6.7.8.9 YS13, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10a.m. - 12 p.m....


  • Youth Studio Art I for Grades 1.2.3

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Youth Studio Art I for Grades 1.2.3 YS11, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., $1...


  • Youth Studio Art II for Grades 4.5

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Youth Studio Art II for Grades 4.5 YS12, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10...


  • Intergenerational Drawing (8 & up)

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Intergenerational Drawing (8 & up) CE 189, Saturday, January 27 - March 3 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., $1...


  • Short Story Writing

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Short Story Writing CE 208, Saturday, January 27 - March 3 (no class on February 24) 10 a.m. - ...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/03/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/04/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/04/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/06/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/06/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Preschool Family Yoga Camp

    03/06/2018
    10:15AM — 11:15AM

    Parents will practice yoga with their preschoolers (ages 3-5), learning tips and tricks for havin...


  • Homeschool Art Studio Ages 6-13

    03/06/2018
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Homeschool Art Studio Ages 6-13 YS 40, Tuesday, January 30 - March 20 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m....


  • Business Practices for Creatives

    03/06/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Business Practices for Creatives DES 200, Tuesday, January 30 - April 3 6 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., 1 c...


  • HTML5 & Website Design

    03/06/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    HTML5 & Website Design DES 155, Tuesday, January 30 - April 3 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., 1 credit, $475 ...


  • Drawing (Portrait & Figure)

    03/06/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Drawing (Portrait & Figure) CE 91, Tuesday, January 30 - March 20 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $245 Evan ...


  • Acrylic Painting and Mixed Media

    03/06/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Acrylic Painting and Mixed Media CE 238, Tuesday, January 30- March 6 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $215 Ju...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/07/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/07/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Preschool Family Yoga Camp

    03/07/2018
    10:15AM — 11:15AM

    Parents will practice yoga with their preschoolers (ages 3-5), learning tips and tricks for havin...


  • Homeschool Hangout

    03/07/2018
    11:00AM — 01:00PM

    Every other Wednesday 11-1p.m. during the school year beginning Jan. 17th-Apr. 25th.Parent/child ...


  • Basics of Copyright Law for Visual Artists

    03/08/2018
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    Basics of Copyright Law for Visual Artists WS 102, Thursday, March 8 9 a.m. - 12 p.m., $60 Pet...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/08/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/08/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Preschool Family Yoga Camp

    03/08/2018
    10:15AM — 11:15AM

    Parents will practice yoga with their preschoolers (ages 3-5), learning tips and tricks for havin...


  • iMAKE

    03/08/2018
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    This a-la-carte class series offers both art and science projects for children ages 6-12. String ...


  • Intro to Video Production & Short Film

    03/08/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Intro to Video Production & Short Film DES 178, Thursday, February 1 - April 5 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.,...


  • Design Principles & Typography

    03/08/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Design Principles & Typography DES 150, Thursday, February 1 - April 5 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., 1 credi...


  • The Art of Felting: 2-D Composition

    03/08/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    The Art of Felting: 2-D Composition CE 239, Thursday, February 1 - March 22 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $...


  • Oil Painting

    03/08/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Oil Painting CE 169, Thursday, February 1 - March 22 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $245 Michael Allen Ex...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/09/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/09/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Preschool Family Yoga Camp

    03/09/2018
    10:15AM — 11:15AM

    Parents will practice yoga with their preschoolers (ages 3-5), learning tips and tricks for havin...


  • Homework Happy Hour Tutoring

    03/09/2018
    03:00PM — 04:15PM

    Fridays 3-4:15 p.m. during the school year beginning Feb.9th.  Bloomsburg University Education...


  • chttp://engage.pcad.edu/winter2018

    03/10/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Young Artists Academy for Grades 6.7.8.9 YS13, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10a.m. - 12 p.m....


  • Youth Studio Art I for Grades 1.2.3

    03/10/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Youth Studio Art I for Grades 1.2.3 YS11, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., $1...


  • Youth Studio Art II for Grades 4.5

    03/10/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Youth Studio Art II for Grades 4.5 YS12, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/10/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/10/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Microscopy

    03/10/2018
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    Microscopy March 10th 1-3pm Get a peek at microscopic cells and organisms! Scouts with learn the...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/11/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/11/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Adobe Illustrator

    03/12/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Adobe Illustrator DES 151, Monday & Wednesday, March 12 - April 11 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 1 credit, $4...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/13/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/13/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Homeschool Art Studio Ages 6-13

    03/13/2018
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Homeschool Art Studio Ages 6-13 YS 40, Tuesday, January 30 - March 20 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m....


  • Business Practices for Creatives

    03/13/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Business Practices for Creatives DES 200, Tuesday, January 30 - April 3 6 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., 1 c...


  • HTML5 & Website Design

    03/13/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    HTML5 & Website Design DES 155, Tuesday, January 30 - April 3 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., 1 credit, $475 ...


  • Drawing (Portrait & Figure)

    03/13/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Drawing (Portrait & Figure) CE 91, Tuesday, January 30 - March 20 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $245 Evan ...


  • Content Creation & Digital Storytelling

    03/13/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Content Creation & Digital Storytelling SM 105, Tuesday & Thursday, March 13 - April 12 6 p.m. ...


  • Intro to Calligraphy & Hand-Lettering

    03/13/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Intro to Calligraphy & Hand-Lettering CE 186, Tuesday, March 13 - April 10 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $19...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/14/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/14/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Homeschool Hangout

    03/14/2018
    11:00AM — 01:00PM

    Every other Wednesday 11-1p.m. during the school year beginning Jan. 17th-Apr. 25th.Parent/child ...


  • Adobe Illustrator

    03/14/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Adobe Illustrator DES 151, Monday & Wednesday, March 12 - April 11 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 1 credit, $4...


  • This family quartet garnered international critical acclaim for its unprecedented arrangements an...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/15/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/15/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • iMAKE

    03/15/2018
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    This a-la-carte class series offers both art and science projects for children ages 6-12. String ...


  • Content Creation & Digital Storytelling

    03/15/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Content Creation & Digital Storytelling SM 105, Tuesday & Thursday, March 13 - April 12 6 p.m. ...


  • Intro to Video Production & Short Film

    03/15/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Intro to Video Production & Short Film DES 178, Thursday, February 1 - April 5 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.,...


  • Design Principles & Typography

    03/15/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Design Principles & Typography DES 150, Thursday, February 1 - April 5 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., 1 credi...


  • The Art of Felting: 2-D Composition

    03/15/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    The Art of Felting: 2-D Composition CE 239, Thursday, February 1 - March 22 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $...


  • Oil Painting

    03/15/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Oil Painting CE 169, Thursday, February 1 - March 22 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $245 Michael Allen Ex...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/16/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/16/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Music Together Family Classes

    03/16/2018
    10:15AM — 11:00AM

    8 class sessions run from Friday, Mar. 16th to May 4th at 10:15 a.m. or 11:15 a.m. This intern...


  • Music Together Family Classes

    03/16/2018
    11:15AM — 12:00PM

    8 class sessions run from Friday, Mar. 16th to May 4th at 10:15 a.m. or 11:15 a.m. This intern...


  • Homework Happy Hour Tutoring

    03/16/2018
    03:00PM — 04:15PM

    Fridays 3-4:15 p.m. during the school year beginning Feb.9th.  Bloomsburg University Education...


  • Join the Central Columbia Junior Jay Bots and area FIRST Lego League Jr clubs for a LEGO expo!Thi...


  • chttp://engage.pcad.edu/winter2018

    03/17/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Young Artists Academy for Grades 6.7.8.9 YS13, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10a.m. - 12 p.m....


  • Youth Studio Art I for Grades 1.2.3

    03/17/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Youth Studio Art I for Grades 1.2.3 YS11, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., $1...


  • Youth Studio Art II for Grades 4.5

    03/17/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Youth Studio Art II for Grades 4.5 YS12, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, January 27 - March 17 10...


  • Lancaster County Young Artists Exhibition

    03/17/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • The Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

    03/17/2018
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Hundreds of artworks from Lancaster County students participating in two artistic competitions, S...


  • Meet the Masters: Cave Paintings

    03/17/2018
    11:00AM — 12:00PM

    It’s never too early to introduce art through exploring “the masters” like Monet, O’Keefe, and Pi...



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