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.