Nature has designed us to feel good when we are surrounded by trees. Perhaps this is it’s way of encouraging us to do more of it.
Forest Bathing (shin-rin-yoku)
The Japanese countryside is covered with magnificent Sugi (Cryptomeria japonica, the Japanese Cedar) forests.
In Japan people engage in visiting forests to improve their health, in a practice called shin-rin-yoku (forest bathing).
The practice has its origins in ancient Shinto practice of striving to become one with nature by employing all five senses to feel its presence.
The Science Connection
In the scent which Japanese cedar (and its incense) gives off there is a natural anti-microbial substance called Phytoncides, a class of chemicals related to pheromones.
The purpose of Sugi’s Phytoncides is to help the tree stay healthy by preventing rot and attacks by germs, bacteria and insects.
Phytoncides, in incense as well as compound form, are widely used in Eastern medicine and aromatherapy for general relaxation and to improve health.
According to research conducted by Professor Yoshifumi Miyazaki, Japan’s leading scientist on nature therapy, forest bathing can result in boosting body’s immune response. It can also significantly lower levels of stress hormones (cortisol) and lower blood pressure and heart rate.