Walk in the Forest to Heal Oneself

I have always been a nature lover, who appreciates spending time outdoors and soaking in the positive energy of the green surroundings. There is a popular practice in Japan called ‘Shinrin-yoku’ which means ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’ also known as ‘forest bathing‘.

Spending time in nature is healing energy for the mind, body and soul. The idea with Shinrin-yoku, a term coined by the government in 1982 but inspired by ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices, is to let nature enter your body through all five senses, and feel at one with the forest. It is about being mindful of your surroundings and the experience.

Shinrin-yoku, a popular practice in Japan, which means ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’ or ‘forest bathing’. It has shown to improve mental and physical health

It’s not about extreme outdoor sports or being alone in the wilderness, but about allowing your body and mind to unwind in the midst of nature, similar to natural aromatherapy.

Ancient wisdom and tribes, who live in harmony with nature, have advocated this for long, and only in recent years there have been studies carried out to prove the health benefits of forest bathing.

Researchers have shown that forest bathing can significantly lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, along with lower blood sugar, blood pressure and heart rate, reduces depression and anger.

Other research points out that walking in the woods can boost the body’s immune system by increasing anti-cancer proteins and enhancing the so-called natural killer activity of certain cells.

Humans have evolved from nature, that’s our home, and is one of the reason why we are so comfortable in it, even though many wouldn’t realise that. Lets go through some of the studies conducted to validate these claims, long known to man –

Reduced Stress levels

One study conducted by Yoshifumi Miyazaki from the University of Chiba, on 260 people at 24 sites in 2005 and 2006 found that the average concentration of salivary cortisol, a stress hormone, in people who gazed on forest scenery for 20 minutes was 13.4 percent lower than that of people in urban settings

Miyazaki has taken more than 600 subjects into the woods since 2004. He and his colleague Juyoung Lee, also of Chiba University, have found that leisurely forest walks, compared with urban walks, show a 12.4 percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, a seven percent decrease in sympathetic nerve activity, a 1.4 percent decrease in blood pressure, and a 5.8 percent decrease in heart rate.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

In a controlled study by University of Illinois, 17 children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were exposed to different environments.

They found that children experienced substantially improved concentration after a 20-minute walk in a city park as compared to a 20-minute walk in downtown or residential settings. The researchers concluded the positive results were comparable to the effects of Ritalin.


A pilot study by psychologists Paul and Ruth Ann Atchley of the University of Kansas and David Strayer of the University of Utah found that after three days of hiking and camping in the wilderness, participants in an Outward Bound course improved their scores on tests of creativity by 50 percent.

Increases Natural killer cells

Natural killer (NK) cells are a type of white blood cells that plays an important role in defense against bacteria, viruses and tumors. With aging, high stress levels, and pesticides, the NK count can reduce.

The video below shows more about shinrin-yoku science, forest bathing practice in Japan and its effect on the human health –

In 2005 and 2006, Qing Li from the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, brought a group of middle-aged businessmen into the woods to hike for three days. By the end, blood tests showed that their NK cells had increased 40 percent. A month later, their NK count was still 15 percent higher than when they started. But when the same people walked in the city, their NK levels didn’t change.

One of the theories as to why forest therapy works is that trees give off scents of volatile oils, known as phytoncides have proven to increase the activity and efficiency of NK cells.

Lowers Blood Sugar

Forest bathing may also help control blood sugar. A Japanese study followed 87 adults diagnosed with type-2 diabetes for six years. They walked in the forest nine times in this period for 3 or 6 kilometers (1.9 or 3.7 miles), depending on their physical ability.

At the end of the study, researchers found that the forest walkers had lower blood sugar, improved insulin sensitivity, and decreased levels of hemoglobin A1c.

Any form of exercise can help improve blood sugar regulation in people with diabetes. When you consider that the frequency of the walks (only nine times in six years) and the fact that blood sugar levels were significantly decreased but not really different between those who walked the long and short distance, researchers concluded that factors, apart from exercise, also led to the positive long-term results, including changes in hormonal secretion and nervous system function associated with blood sugar metabolism.

Regularly walking in the forest also leads to ~

  • Deeper and clearer intuition
  • Increased flow of energy
  • Increased capacity to communicate with the land and its species
  • Increased flow of prana/life force
  • Deepening of friendships
  • Overall increase in sense of happiness

It is such a simple process, just walk in the forest, listen to the sounds of the birds chirping, meandering streams, absorb the greenery around you and the aromas of the forest. Its only when we disconnect from nature, do we face health issues and illnesses. Biologist E.O. Wilson coined the term ‘biophilia‘, which means ‘love of life or living systems’ describes this innate human need.

If you are leading a busy life or staying in the city, take time off and reconnect with nature, visit a park at least few times a week, or wander in the woods. I remembered a quote I read by Frank Lloyd Wright, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”


The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku

Forest Bathing in Japan

Benefits of Forest therapy

Image source:

Michael Hanson – Olympic National Park, Washington

Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and get the latest updates straight in your inbox!

Please share, it really helps! :) <3


Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Latest for Members

You May Like

Cultivating a Potent Gratitude Practice and it’s Benefits

Gratitude is an essential practice in our daily life to keep us grounded, humble, and focused on life. We're all aware of its numerous...

7 Books to Help Light Up Your Path

"What fascinates me is that hardly anyone is wondering what we're actually doing on this planet. Most accepted the work-eat-entertainment -sleep cycle as life...

Going Supernatural ~ Unlocking your True Human Potential ~ Part 2

In Part 1 of Going Supernatural we saw that our capabilities are limited by our beliefs and that we can unlock far more than...

Why Do I Keep Meeting the Same type of Man or Woman?

Many people who come for my therapy sessions often ask me, “why do I keep meeting the same type of men or women? I...

11 Signs You Were Born To Be a Spiritual Healer

Do you often feel like you don’t belong in this world - like you are somehow isolated or too different to fit in? Do...

5 Signs You May be a Wounded Healer

“It is of the first order of importance to remember this, that the shaman is more than merely a sick man, or a madman;...

For Members

Understanding the Cyclic Patterns of Our Existence According to Rudolf Steiner – Part 2

The Sixth Cycle Ages 35 to 42: A Time of Challenge and Crises If I believe that I am what this world makes of me,...

Broken Compasses, Bullshit-meters, and Question-mark Swords

“We should go and proclaim without cease and remind people at every step of what we are: that our capacity for self-delusion has no...

4 Ways to Reveal the Roots in The Unseen

“Everything you see has its roots in the unseen.” ~ Rumi Most of life is a mystery. What we think we know is illusory at...

Going to the Depths of your Mind through Vipassana

Sometimes you need to be pushed to the edge to realign with your path. It had reached a stage where if I didn’t do...

Understanding your Child’s Love Language

"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."~ Frederick Douglass According to Dr Gary Chapman, every child has a special way...

4 Calming Nature Rituals to Keep you Centered in Chaos

Nature heals. It heals your soul, rejuvenates your spirit and calms your mind. The pandemic has taken a huge toll on everyone and during...

Einstein as Shaman : Living By Truth

“Shamanism and science are both essential to making sense of our primary experience of the world. Discovering and living by truth require practicing each...

Shadow of the Overman: The Power of the Underman Archetype

“It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares...

7 Thought Experiments by Albert Einstein that will Blow your Mind

"Einstein believed: that A reality exists independent of our ability to observe it. That objects are located at distinct points in spacetime and have...

7 Methods to Enrich Your Meditative Practice

"One thing: you have to walk, and create the way by your walking; you will not find a ready-made path. It is not so...

Going Supernatural ~ Unlocking your True Human Potential ~ Part 2

In Part 1 of Going Supernatural we saw that our capabilities are limited by our beliefs and that we can unlock far more than...

The Unsacred Clown and The Death of the Sacred

“Man is a polluted river. One must be a sea to receive a polluted river without becoming defiled.” ~ Nietzsche We are living in the...