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Saturday, 30 March 2013

forest medicine


I often take moments to remind myself that we cannot Save The Forests without saving ourselves and how our human relationship with trees should save each other.

Campaigning that the "government" must keep our Public Forests public can be quite stressful. Do we need that stress? The forests say "no",
I believe, and here's why.

"Green Prescription" is a buzz phrase that often appears in health magazines and through health columnists in newspapers.

"Take two hours in the forest
and call me in the morning"   kind of thing.

A lot of folks interpret this as taking a motivated power walk or jog through the woods or even a gruelling mountain bike trek.

Doing forest activities indeed have their valuable healthy place and are to be encouraged but my main focus is on something I feel is more complete and wholesome.

Japanese call this Shrinrin Yoku,
The Koreans call this Sanlimyok
I call it Boladh na SiĆ³ga
and its all "Forest Bathing".

The basis of "Forest Bathing" health benefits are said to come from breathing in the forest spray of essential oils released from the trees, that are called phytoncides by the scientists. It works like aromatherapy but set in the great outdoors.

Aromatherapy theories aside, there are many other well founded studies "revealing" that spending time in forests can calm us, increase energy levels and heighten our well-being, increase our resiliency to illnesses, and decrease risks of mental illness.

Those of us who spend time in forests know they we do not 
need to see these studies as we already know this is all true.

Lets take this wider, though. Have you ever considered how your time in the forest can actually help to make the world a better place?

One of the more surprising benefits of frequent forest visits is its enchantment that change our outlook, our vision of living. Values and priorities seem to phase from personal gain and consumerism towards focus on community and connections with others. Simply, the spell of the forests, for those who visit often, seems to convert people into being more caring. I do not see this happening within gymnasiums.

share the forests

I personally find that social exchanges in the forests, especially with strangers, are much more relaxed and pleasant than in buildings, stores, and on public transport.

Surely, extending this pleasantness through spending more time in the forests with more people would evolve into stronger social exchange and sense of community again? 

When social connectedness are strong, people feel less isolated, and become more more willing to help each other. Actually, I believe we find that starts off very well during the picnic times of our forest gatherings. Sometimes strangers join us and they become lasting friends.

I also find the sights and sounds of the forest help to dissolve mental fatigue yet restore's our mind's ability to focus and pay attention. No wonder people are inspired with words, poems and stories while in the forests.

Its amazing how this relaxation and awareness dissolves anger and does not ignite aggression. Taken wider, imagine how this could help to reduce the eruption of violence and the use of crime to solve situations.

Frequent forestry visits also seems to enhance our appreciation for helping to protect natural environments. Recycling, conserving energy and using public transport instead of driving cars suddenly seems to make more sense.

Overall, a frequent forest forager transforms from being a consumer person into being a creative person ...

... a Bard In The Wood.

I believe that is an enchantment that could be as much world medicine as personal medicine. A return to this is truly one person at a time.

I hope you will enjoy our Forest Gatherings and Picnics.

click here to see where they are

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