Over the River and Through the Woods

Many have heard of forest bathing by now, and its ability to heal us on physical, mental, and emotional levels. Simple gratitude is known to have similar therapeutic effects. Imagine the strength of combining the two by immersing yourself in nature and allowing yourself to slow down enough to focus on the things for which you are thankful.

That is the goal for those who practice shinrin-yoku, a Japanese term for "taking in the forest atmosphere".  Conceived in the 1980s, its purpose was twofold: to offer a respite from technological burnout as well as to inspire people to reconnect with and protect the country’s forests. It caught on quickly and then caught the attention of physicians, therapists, and researchers who noticed the positive effect it had on those who gave it a try. It turns out that the habit has long been found in many cultures, and for good reason.