Our June meeting saw us heading out of our local area to Crystal Palace Park for a spot of Forest Bathing with Vanessa and Bev from Park Bathe. Forest bathing or shinrin yoku started in Japan in the 1980s. It is a practice that draws on mindfulness and meditation, of being calm and quiet amongst the trees and observing nature around you.
Vanessa founded ParkBathe to explore how Forest Bathing could work in an city setting and talked us through the Citizen Science project that she is running with Dr Kirsten McEwan. The research is still developing but studies show that it does boost your health and wellbeing. Early indications are that is reduces feelings of anxiety and stress. It was really cool that we were able to contribute to this research by filling in surveys before and after our walk.
We divided into two smaller groups to be led by either Vanessa or Bev through the Great North wood. We were encouraged to walk in silence and not use our phones so that we could really focus on small details. We were encouraged to think about what we could hear, what we could see like different shades of green, explore how different trees felt and focus in on leaves or blades of grass that were moving. It was so peaceful walking through the trees on a beautiful midsummer evening.
Vanessa has really kindly shared some further resources for us to follow up:
:: An audio guide to support you in any further forest bathing walks – it has some prompts that you can follow as you walk.
:: Park Bathe’s podcast which explores the science of forest bathing, interviews with nature experts, and tree facts. Every episode has different ideas about how to bring nature into your life, be it making your own reed diffuser, tree spotting, creating a ‘bucket pond’.
:: Also for those keen to learn more about the science of Forest Bathing and Forest Medicine, co-founder Dr Kirsten McEwan has put this information pack together:
1) Li, Q. (2018). ‘Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing’. Penguin Life. 0241346959 (ISBN13: 9780241346952) This is a book, so if you prefer a research article…
Wen, Y., Yan, Q., Pan, Y. et al. Medical empirical research on forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku): a systematic review. Environ Health Prev Med 24, 70 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12199-019-0822-8
Hansen MM, Jones R, Tocchini K. Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2017; 14(8):851. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14080851
2) White, M.P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J. et al. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. Sci Rep 9, 7730 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44097-3
3) Li Q, Morimoto K, Nakadai A, et al. Forest Bathing Enhances Human Natural Killer Activity and Expression of Anti-Cancer Proteins. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology. April 2007:3-8. doi:10.1177/03946320070200S202
Thank you so much Vanessa, Bev, Elaine and Laura for a fantastic evening and for Dr Kirsten McEwan for the resources list!