Nature is where we, humans, have lived for the majority of our existence on Earth. Not surprisingly, then, it is where we evolved to feel our most comfortable, most at home and in balance.
We feel that familiarity deep in our bones – the fresh air, the soothing drum of rain as it falls, the beauty of the crystallized frost patterns of frozen water. Immersing ourselves in nature, and getting regular doses of ‘Vitamin “N”,’ is essential for our mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
Forest bathing, or Shinrin-Yoku, is the Japanese practice of immersing (or bathing) in a forest with all our senses. It stems from one of the seven principles of zen aesthetics, called shizen, which translates to ‘nature, naturalness’ and which describes how the closer design is to nature, the more pleasing it is.
Since the 1970s, forest bathing has been studied by researchers and the health benefits of spending time under the trees has emerged.
David Motzenbecker is the Founder and Principal of Motz Studio, a Minneapolis-based landscape architecture consultancy with a focus on biophilic and salutogenic design. David is also an ANFT-Certified Forest Therapy Guide and Forest Therapy Trail Certification Consultant, and, a provider of therapeutic forest immersion walks based on Shinrin-Yoku.
In this episode, David describes how this powerful ‘forest medicine’ can lead to stress reduction, lowered blood pressure, improved immunity and more regulated nervous system function, as explained by scientific evidence. David shares how our rhythms synchronize with nature’s rhythms, and thus, how this can help us rebalance and reconnect with our roots. He also speaks about the language of nature and what we might learn about ourselves and the natural world with this practice.
We can all relate to the calming, refreshing and energizing feelings of being in nature yet this episode, most notably, showcases is that the real secret power of trees is still, and might forever be, unobserved. The forest seems to have far more profound impacts on our wellbeing than even science or logic can explain.
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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES SHARED BY DAVID
Any book by Robert Macfarlane (so brilliant!)
The Living Mountain – Nan Shepherd
Braiding Sweetgrass – Robin Wall Kimmerer
The Obstacle is the Way; Ego is the Enemy; and Stillness – Ryan Holiday
When the Trees Say Nothing – Thomas Merton
Wilderness & The American Mind – Roderick Frazier Nash
The Overstory – Richard Powers
The Art of Living – Epictetus
Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
How To Do Nothing – Jenny Odell
Forest Bathing – Dr. Qing Li
Shinrin Yoku – Yoshifumi Miyazaki
Your Guide To Forest Bathing – M. Amos Clifford (founder of ANFT, he trained me)
A God Within – Rene DuBos
Last Child In The Woods; The Nature Principle; Vitamin N – Richard Louv
The Wild Trees – Richard Preston
Barkskins – Annie Proulx
The World Without Us – Alan Weisman
American Canopy – Eric Rutkow
Landscape & Memory – Simon Schama
The Power of Meaning – Emily Esfahani Smith
ANFT – Association Nature and Forest Therapy Guides – Find a Forest Bathing Guide, FAQs, Research, etc.
Emergence Magazine – absolutely phenomenal writing on nature/human connection, spirituality
Global Wellness Institute – Global perspective on wellness
Terrapin Bright Green (Biophilia) – lots of great white papers and resources here
Biophilic Cities Network – great info on how to push for greener cities more connected with nature
Forest Bathing Finder – as it sounds like
ASLA – American Society of Landscape Architects
CSLA AAPC – Canadian Society of Landscape Architects
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Find all episodes of The Inspiring Co at: theinspiringco.com, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher
For 1:1 intuitive wellness coaching and to access Dana’s FREE meditation library: danareadings.com.
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