Audiobooks and Podcasts, Quality of Life

Shinrin-Yoku: The Japanese Art and Science of Forest Bathing

A couple weeks ago I finished an amazing audiobook: Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness (2018) by Dr. Qing Li.

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image credit: penguin random house

This book discusses shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing”), the Japanese therapeutic practice of spending time in the forest/woods for healing and wellness.

A definition of shinrin-yoku according to the Timber Press blog is:

…shinrin-yoku is the practice of walking slowly through the woods, in no hurry, for a morning, an afternoon or a day.

I listened to this amazing audiobook each morning as I walked through the trees lines streets of surrounding neighborhoods.

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I already love trees and this book made me love and appreciate trees even more. Dr. Li discusses their healing powers in depth and the science behind it.  Here is a review on amazon.com that provides a wonderful overview of this book:

This book by Dr. Qing Li, Chairman of the Japanese Society of Forest Medicine, describes a medical technology landmark. The description starts with the natural pleasant sensation that many people have, while spending time in a forest. The five human senses can all come into play – sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. The book then turns to aspects of healing. These include; reduced blood pressure, improved cardiovascular and metabolic activity, lower blood sugar levels, increasing the count of natural killer cells, and increasing production of anti-cancer proteins. These have been scientifically observed by comparing the profiles of people who have engaged in forest therapy with the profiles of control groups. The former significantly outrank the latter. This leads to a fundamental question. Is there a physically identifiable emanation in a forest that carries the healing power? The answer suggested is “yes”. It is called phytoncide and is produced by trees to protect them from afflictions. Scientific studies have shown that phytoncides can be of benefit to humans as well. While research is ongoing we should regard available evidence as pointing to a medical technology landmark.

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One of the most magical places I’ve ever visited is the Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.

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image credit: sevenwondersofwashingtonstate.com

Dr. Li mentions the Hoh Rain Forest in his book and that it is one of the quietest places on earth. It contains One Square Inch, a sanctuary for silence. According to the website: “It is an independent research project located in the Hoh Rain Forest of Olympic National Park, which is one of the most pristine, untouched, and ecologically diverse environments in the United States”.

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“Hall of Mosses”, image credit: sevenwondersofwashingtonstate.com

If you have a moment, “google” images of the Hoh Rain Forest and you will find them amazing.

I feel so lucky to have spent a day wandering around the Hoh Rain Forest many years ago when we lived in Seattle and went on an Olympic Peninsula adventure. Now after listening to this audiobook I am planning a return trip to do some “forest bathing”.

Although I do not have a rainforest or a beautiful Japanese forest to wander through for my “forest bathing”, I have many wonderful tree-lined streets as well as woods to walk in Central Oregon.

Each day I go for my morning meditative walk and audiobook listen among the trees. Here are some of closeups of some of the trees I “bathe in” each morning during my walk (photographs taken as I walked under them):2018-09-02_11-35-10_9622018-09-15_11-59-31_9542018-09-13_12-18-05_228Listening to this audiobook on my walks, I wanted to honor and even touch each tree I passed and thank it for what is brings to the environment.

Trees are so unbelievably important and this book will give you a deep appreciation for Nature’s natural nurturing healers.

Involuntary attention requires no mental effort, it just comes naturally. This is the kind of attention we use when we are in nature. The soothing sights and sounds give our mental resources a break. They allow our minds to wander and to reflect, and so restore our capacity to think more clearly. – Dr. Qing Li


Postscript

A quick follow up to the post What’s on the Design Wall: Serious Progress on Tango Stripe!

This is what happens when you do not sew your blocks together right away – they start falling to the floor!

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I woke up yesterday morning to find blocks strewn about the floor. This was a tad irritating as I had to start over figuring out the layout in several sections (the quilt fits together like a puzzle) – I needed a walk in the forest to calm down (smile)!

So after work today I worked on sewing the piece together (at least large sections so that if they fall of the design wall, they will fall as a unit!) and will post in the future the completed quilt top.

33 thoughts on “Shinrin-Yoku: The Japanese Art and Science of Forest Bathing”

  1. When I first heard the concept of “forest bathing,” I giggled quite a bit. I first heard about the concept from a radio DJ who basically said it’s what “city people” did to get away from smog. Quite some time later, thanks to you, I’m now learning about the science behind the concept. I didn’t know it was a Japanese idea.

    Like you, I’ve always loved trees. I love looking up at them through their branches from underneath so I LOVE the pictures you took. This was my first introduction to the Hoh Rain Forest and the images are beautiful. I feel very lucky to live in Indiana, a state with many preserved natural forests. I live in a rather rural area so there are also trees and forests all around us. Our city has beautiful paths for walking and biking and recently in our area The Nickel Plate Trail is being formed–basically by taking up unused railroad tracks, and turning the space into a path for walking or biking and you can literally travel to other cities this way while walking through forested areas.

    For me it’s hard to imagine not living near trees or forests, but I can certainly understand why people would want to get back to them!

    Great post!!

    Also, sorry about your quilt pieces rearranging themselves. If you can’t use pins, perhaps something with magnets?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments! I am attracted to the idea of living in a big city such as NYC but I would miss the trees and the quiet that you find in the smaller towns like the one I live in. I am glad your city has good trails, trees and forests (and a good library, right? see it is a perfect place to live!) to enjoy/ Thanks so much for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am another tree lover, so this book sounds like one I must read!. I got halfway through “The hidden life of trees” (secret life?) before I had to return it to the library. But it is a fascinating book too, and one that you may find interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What Tierney doesn’t know is I am coming over to frolic through the forest and then stop over her house and eat some Shepherd’s Pie, Beef Stew, Apple Pie, and drink some Root Beer (non alcoholic). I will have a big appetite from all this wandering around the forest so be generous in portion size. Once I am done eating, we are going to design a quilt dedicated to Root Beer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes! I’ve been interested in forest bathing since I read this article last year:
    https://qz.com/804022/health-benefits-japanese-forest-bathing/
    I love to wander under the trees in Dublin’s parks, and although my last blog post is full of photos from one of these walks, most of the time I have a rule that my phone and camera are off limits while I’m there! Oh, and thanks to you, my new goal in life is to see the Hoh Rain Forest. It looks incredible!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing that article! Yes your recent blog post looks like a Beastie was doing some forest-like bathing! Let me know when you want to meet up at the Hot Rain Forest – I promise not to talk too much when we get to the One Square Inch of Silence 🙂

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      1. And when you are done, you can pop one state up and join me at the epic dinner that Tierney will be hosting in our honor. Remember, we will be having all the great classic foods. Beastie will even make an appearance.

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  5. Tierney, thank you for helping me finish my Christmas shopping list! I am going to buy this book for a dear friend, it’s the perfect gift for her. The “involuntary attention” phrase has stuck in my brain and I very much agree with Dr. Li’s description. I’m heading for the trees…without my smart phone!

    Liked by 1 person

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