“The idea is simple,” instructs shinrin-yoku.org, “if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved.”

Forest bathing occurs daily throughout the United States — many just don’t call it that.

Considered a Japanese preventive health care concept, “shinrin-yoku,” or “forest bathing,” involves simply taking a slow, purposeful, meditative walk in nature. Breathing deeply and tapping into senses are important aspects.

“The idea is simple,” instructs shinrin-yoku.org, “if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved.”

Getting out of doors (a park will do) to walk or hike is appealing to many with indoor jobs. National Public Radio in April called attention to an Environmental Protection Agency study determining Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. Plus, more than half of the world’s population lives among asphalt and concrete versus trees and fields.

Forest bathing is lauded as part of an overall healthy living plan for a number of reasons. Supporters say it:
— Reduces stress
— Improves mood
— Lowers blood pressure
— Boosts immune system
— Increases energy level
— Enhances sleep

Besides offering physical gains, forest bathing is actually a form of mental therapy, points out shinrin-yoku.org, resulting for some in a deeper and clearer intuition.

There is something to be said for the common adage, “I need to take a walk and clear my head.” A new book by medical doctor and author Qing Li, titled “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness,” outlines a proper how-to. Some suggestions for maximizing a walk’s physical and mental benefits: smell flowers, touch bark, watch swaying branches.

Through the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy, one can even become a guide. The program’s mandate expressed by organization founder M. Amos Clifford is: “The Forest is the Therapist. The Guide Opens the Doors.”

Though a naturalist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, John Muir wrote prophetically, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home. Wilderness is a necessity.”

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