Shinrin Yoku: Forest Therapy

For most of us, reconnecting with nature in the midst of the biggest mass migration in human history—a migration indoors, behind screens—is difficult enough. For seniors and differently abled people, the challenges are compounded. Simple methods of reconnection are key if we are to engage an increasingly urban, sedentary population with the health benefits of nature contact.

Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest therapy.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Researchers have established a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest. The idea is simple: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way, there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved.

This session features a hands-on exploration of the benefits of shinrin-yoku, led by Amos Clifford, Founder of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides (a 2019 SHIFT Award Official Selection), Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, medical director for the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, and Juan Lazo Bautista, a participant in the 2019 Emerging Leaders Program.

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