Have you ever noticed how spending time near trees makes you feel good? I’m convinced of it, and I think some magic even works through glass. At home I’m grateful that we can see trees out of every window. The large tree next door spreads its thick branches over most of our garden. The hospital I’ve been staying in is next to a large wood and all the windows of the ward look out onto its diverse selection of trees. I’m sure this is one reason I’ve felt calmer there than other wards. The sight of the woodland brings solace in every season and the trees house a myriad of wildlife whose noises and antics help pass the time in hospital.
The Japanese have a term “forest bathing” or “Shinrin-yoku”. Shinrin means forest and yoku to bathe. The concept is that spending time amongst the trees of a forest is good for your health it stimulates all 5 of your senses and reduces anxiety and boosts the immune system. The term was coined in 1982 by Tomohide Akiyama, who recognized the dual value of it; if people discovered that the forests were good for their health, they would be more motivated to look after them. Dr Qing Li has researched the subject and written a book on the subject.
For cancer sufferers apart from reducing stress and anxiety he found forest bathing also increased the number of natural killer cells and increased the amount of anti-cancer protein production.
I’ve just been doing some yoga outside under the tree and I must say there’s something about the smell of grass and leaves and the sight of sky through the tree canopy that makes my heart sing and livens my sun salutes. Doing a tree pose brings it full circle and I certainly hope my natural killer cells have been paying attention.
Link to Dr Qing Li’s book and more information: