This is an invitation to a guided forest therapy walk specifically designed for healthcare professionals. Please share this invitation with the physicians, therapists, and nursing staff at your organization.
Forest Therapy is a research-based framework for supporting healing and wellness through immersion in forests and other natural environments. Forest Therapy is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, which translates to “forest bathing.” Studies have demonstrated a wide array of health benefits, especially in the cardiovascular and immune systems, and for stabilizing and improving mood and cognition. We build on those benefits and look beyond, to what happens when people remember that we are a part of nature, not separate from it, and are related to all other beings in fundamental ways.
“Forest bathing” is derived from the Japanese term, “shinrin-yoku,” a concept coined by two physicians in Tokyo in the early 1980s. Drs. Li and Miyazaki were concerned about the high rates of mental illness and suicide in Tokyo and postulated that healing could be achieved by guiding people into the forest, simply to take the elements of nature in through the senses. These doctors have collected data on their participants over the last several decades and discovered that quiet, contemplative time spent in nature is, in fact, healing for both mental and physical health. An excellent review of their work, as well as other studies involving forest bathing, can be found at this link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov › pmcWeb resultsShinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the …
Amos Clifford has expanded upon the work of Drs. Li and Miyazaki, by founding the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT) in the U.S. This organization has now trained 700 guides in 46 nations around the world, with the original training site being Sugarloaf State Park, in Sonoma County.
You are invited to join Amos at Sugarloaf on one of a series of walks designed specifically for physicians in the coming weeks. As a physician myself, I will share that the practice of forest bathing not only saved me from a state of burnout and helped me through the grief of losing a spouse, but that it has also been a source of healing for my patients. I have accounts of patients experiencing life-saving revelations following suicide attempts, to patients finding relief from chronic, unremitting pain. I’ve never experienced anything like it, as a healing modality.
I hope you will accept this unique opportunity to be guided by Amos, himself, and to take a few hours to heal thyself. As Amos teaches his guides, “the forest is the therapist, the guide simply opens the door.”
Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, MD, FACOG, ABOIM
Medical Director, Association of Nature and Forest Therapy