April 25, 2013

Forest Therapy — You Don't Need to Be Japanese

In Japan, "forest therapy" is a formal process, complete with leaders. "To help us along, Kunio—a volunteer ranger—had us standing still on a hillside, facing the creek, with our arms at our sides."
In an effort to benefit the Japanese and find nonextractive ways to use forests, which cover 67 percent of the country’s landmass, the government has funded about $4 million in forest-bathing research since 2004. It intends to designate a total of 100 Forest Therapy sites within 10 years. Visitors here are routinely hauled off to a cabin where rangers measure their blood pressure, part of an effort to provide ever more data to support the project.
But just do it yourself. You don't need to write haiku, unless you want to.

The "nature as a gym" crowd is doing it wrong.
And don’t think you’re off the hook if you exercise outdoors. You are quite likely still tethered to civilization. Perhaps you’re strapped to a heart monitor or headset. Admit it: Have you brought your phone? Are you clocking wind sprints? Sure, you are deriving some mental and physical benefits, but evidence is mounting that to get the most out of nature, you really need to be present in it, not distracted by your own great story of self.


Holly Heyser said...

I prefer marsh therapy, even when I don't fire my gun.

NotClauswitz said...

Good line that about the self-centric model: "your own great story of self."