Waldbaden & Waldtherapie – Forest Bathing & Forest Therapy

Why do we feel happy when we’re immersed in Nature? Why do we feel calm and relaxed when we’re among trees? There is a scientific explanation and Dr. Qing Li discovered the beneficial properties of plants and trees in 1982, when he founded the so called Shinrin‐Yoku practice. Shinrin‐Yoku literally means Forest Bathing, Waldbaden.

Waldbaden oder auch Shinrin-Yoku genannt, kommt aus China.

During my 7 years in Asia, I could experience with my own eyes how hospitals are often surrounded by trees and forests. Doctors take patients walking into the woods as a supportive therapy to medicines. It is proved that being immersed into Forests helps our body at 360 degrees, as we can feel the positive influences on all levels. Forest Bathing has got a strong impact on our body as it allows to:

  • Decrease cortisol, the hormone responsible of stress
  • Increase serotonin and endorphins, neurotransmitters of happiness and joy
  • Increase the production of T‐killer cells, improving our immune system
  • Activate our vagus nerve, conveying us a sense of calm and regeneration
  • Regulate heart beating and breathing
  • Regulate blood pressure
  • Decrease sugar in our blood
  • Increase our energy levels
  • Cleanse the polluted elements within our body Forest Bathing has got good effects on our mind, such as:
    • Increasing creativity, imagination and fantasy
    • Better access to intuition
    • Improving the overview capacity, helping us being more rational in our choices
    • Stimulating memory and focus attention
    • Increasing pain level acceptance

Shinrin-Yoku = im Wald baden

All of this, of course, reflects on our overall mood, making us feel good, joyful and consequently less keen in feeling depressed or overwhelmed by negative thoughts. Forest Bathing can therefore be recognized as a real Therapy, in support of traditional medicine as it strongly influences the whole body with bio‐chemical effects. It has been proved that oncological patients, such as other categories of patients can face and cope with their illness with much more energy and positive results when in touch with Nature. Having a view on the wood, or walking into nature increases the levels of calm and quiet, therefore patients can face their healing process with a different perspective, which undoubtedly influences their body reaction to pain and illness.

When we practice grounding, as we are deeply connected with Earth and Nature, we can get access to inner levels of ourselves too. Unknown emotions and new thoughts can come up to our mind and heart while being immersed in Forest Bathing. We can discover a new way of perceiving our current life and get access to a different approach. I personally saw people realize their job was not satisfying them and decided to change it, or others chose to move to a different home… it is not needed to feel such deep changes, but it is sure that we can have a much clearer view of ourselves when in touch with nature.

“Uh, you are those people hugging trees.”

Some people said to our author Lisa.

Barefoot walking is also a key theme of forest bathing. When we walk without our shoes, we get in touch with the energy of earth and we can feel much more connected and grounded. It conveys a general sense of wholeness and integrity and we can feel we are One with Mother Earth. Since when mankind chose to wear shoes, men lost their capacity of self‐thermoregulation and got isolated from Nature and its world. While practicing a Forest Bathing session, we can also experience the barefoot walking, which conveys a sense of deep connection with the ground, making us feel united to our roots and origins.

Too often I hear people saying “Uh, you are those people hugging trees”. Well, actually we are not. When immersed in Forest Bathing, we follow a precise sequence of difference activities which make us touch, breathe, listen to and observe nature around us at 360 degrees. Hugging trees is just the spontaneous ending of a long process anyone can choose to live during the session. Nothing is compulsory, nothing is fixed.

Trees are main parts of the experience, as their substances are those reacting with our bodies, making all chemical reactions within ourselves happen. Trees are a continuous source of energy and vibrations. They have got memory as well as sensibility. They can communicate and they are alive among us. To learn more on the power of trees, stay tuned and keep following the Austrian Mountain Girls´ Community!

Lisa Zancanaro is Italian, grown in the North‐eastern part of Italy, in Friuli, on the borders with Austria and Slovenia. She spent her childhood summer holiday in the millennial Forest of Tarvisio, where bears, wolves, lynxes and deers live together, while her childhood winter holiday took place in Carinthia, Austria. After living 7 years in Asia, based in Hong Kong, she got to know the Shinrin‐Yoku practice and once in Italy, she is now engaged in spreading Forest Bathing & Forest Therapy throughout her country.

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