Forest Bathing is the New Wellness Prescription: The Art of Shinrin-Yoku

Forest Bathing is the New Wellness Prescription: The Art of Shinrin-Yoku

The practice of forest bathing, often referred to as the “Art of Shinrin-yoku”, encourages us to slow down and open up our senses in order to draw benefit from the rich environment of the forest. This time-honored Japanese practice of immersing oneself in nature, activates our senses and restores our energy.

Through our sense of smell, view, sound, taste, touch and even thought, by connecting to nature, there are documented mental and physical healings. Forest bathing has been proven to reduce the introduction of stress hormones (cortisol), lower heart rate, lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety, plus increase the mobility of our joints and relieve fatigue. A study from Nippon Medical School in Japan found that people who experienced forest bathing had lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate and lower blood pressure.

The truth is that the forest has deep secrets to tell us and when we listen, there is a feeling of home and deep connectivity.  As Brad Johnson shares from the Canadian rainforest of Victoria, British Columbia, “Trees have the capability to broadcast their energy and connect with other forms of wildlife; other forms of nature.”

Shinrin-Yoku is the Japanese word for “forest bathing” and describes

A gentle path to wellness accessible to almost everybody.

Even Paracelsus, 16th-century German-Swiss physician, knew the “The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician.

Thankfully, there are physicians today that are also embodying the idea that instead of focussing on a drug remedy, to offer a natural one – nature itself.

Today, “Doctors are embracing the benefits of trees, too. Rather than prescribing antidepressants, GPs in Telford, Doncaster and Camden, north London, are referring patients suffering from stress, depression or anxiety to Green Gyms where they can get involved in conservation projects.”2

A relatively new field of eco-psychology is turning our attention to the physiological benefits of trees.  It is based on the idea that the current “depressed state” of the world is based on our disconnection with nature.

This is a stunning and beautiful new form of therapy being prescribed by doctors in the UK.  At TaoWander, we are loving this new form of therapy that puts us in touch with nature!

The Enchantment of Trees

I have always been enchanted by the beauty of trees.  Some of the best places to travel are to beautiful forests.  I grew up in Alberta, Canada and loved to look at the beautiful white bark birch trees.  It was like I was in a place of divine reverence.  Years later, when I got to experience the huge redwood forest in California, I was then again transported into another dimension.  Trees somehow magnify our feelings in a way that transmutes them back into higher consciousness.  So no matter how happy or sad you are feeling, the trees give those feelings movement and help us resolve inner conflict or gain greater insight.

This is Your Brain on Trees

It sounds like a hippy commercial.  Truly, it is and yet it is the most profound and simplest of truths. Is it a wonder that the paths in our brain mirror on the molecular level look similar to that of a tree.  It’s like connecting to a biological light field.

a tree neuron

“So, trees can evoke feelings and imagery from the depths of our psyche, probably not because our neurons so resemble them, but more likely because our brains and bodies, by default and design, are on an integrative healing trajectory; and they will place virtually any person, place or thing into service that they might use for that purpose.”1

This is Your Heart on Trees

The truth is that a tree is a living being.  The heartbeat of a tree resembles that of the earth itself..  “Researchers discover trees have a “heartbeat,” it’s just so slow we’ve never noticed before” – András Zlinszky of Aarhus University in the Netherlands, New Scientist. 3

The Whispers of Trees

“When I surround myself with trees, my breathing becomes deeper, my senses are satiated. I feel peaceful and grounded.” – Karin Marcus, life coach

The concept that a tree can whisper to us has been talked about in prayers, songs, chants, and passed down from generation to generation.  The reason is because we are being whispered to from the gentle spirit of nature.

This old song from the 1970’s talks about the whispers of trees.

Some of my kin look just like trees now, and need something great to rouse them; and they speak only in whispers. But some of my trees are limb-lithe, and many can talk to me.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

What Can we Learn from the Wisdom of Trees?

In short, we learn how to breathe and to accept the sounds of nature.  Nature is free-flowing energy and it reminds us to be more fluid in our movements and our love.  As you can see, trees are filled with wisdom and nature itself is a very profound and special thing here on planet earth.

I want to thank my dear friend Rick Skalsky for all the wisdom we have learned together on trees and plants and his beautiful digital art.

Wellness Travel for Nature

I’m so clear that we need to spend more time in trees that I’ve even found some great retreats that celebrate trees and nature. Imagine that??!!!  It’s our job here at TaoWander to spread and create social change.

  1. December 15, 2013; Mark Brady,;
  2. July 6, 2018, The Healing Power of Trees;
  3. Sara Burrows, April 29, 2018, Trees Have a “Heartbeat,” Scientists Discover
Leave your comment