Forest Therapy by Kerry Walker
In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. John Muir
In recent years it is becoming more evident that communities are disconnecting with nature while spending more time indoors and connecting to technology. At the same time evidence is emerging on the healing powers of nature and that spending time in nature, especially forests, has many positive health effects. If you regularly take walks in nature or spend time amongst the trees in Brigit's Garden, you may already be aware of the benefits of nature.
Some of the most interesting evidence of the health benefits of nature is coming out of Japan, and revolves around the popular practice of 'Shinrin-yoku', also referred to as 'forest bathing' or 'forest therapy'. The practice was introduced in 1982 in by the Forest Agency of Japan to encourage a healthy lifestyle and decrease stress levels. Forest bathing has now become a recognised relaxation and stress management activity in Japan, and it's popularity is spreading worldwide.
Health Benefits of Forest Therapy
Forest Therapy walks are gentle guided walks that enhance wellbeing through sensory connection in nature. Participants are guided through grounding, relaxing and centering exercises in deep relationship with the natural surrounding environment. It is a researchbased intervention for supporting healing and wellness through immersion into natural environments. Studies have shown that being in nature can have a wide array of positive health benefits; including lowered stress, increased creativity, a boost in immune system functions, reduced blood pressure, increased energy and improved sleep.
In Forest Therapy we say that : 'The Forest is the Therapist, the Guide opens the door.'
Kerry Walker from Down to Earth Forest School is a Certified Forest Therapy Guide through The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy: www.natureandforesttherapy.org She is currently Co-Facilitating 'The Art of Living Wild' course with Carol Barrett. This is a creative journey for adults where forest therapy will be one of the tools used to support the group in connecting to their senses and deepen their connection with nature.
There are big and small steps we can all take to help reverse climate change and look after our precious natural environment. With the Nature's Power project Brigit's Garden aims to be on the forefront of sustainability education. Our grateful thanks to our funding agencies
Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and project partners NUI, Galway and Tipperary Energy Agency.