The increasing popularity of Forest Bathing (Shinrin-yoku), particularly in California, echoes the adoption of other east-to-west health trends, such as yoga and meditation. And like these activities, forest therapy can be a guided, paid-for experience or freely performed solo. It's the new meditation, after all.
“I think about where yoga was 30 years ago and where it is today, and I realize that forest therapy is making the same journey toward cultural definition in a way that will mainstream the practice,” said Ben Page, a certified forest therapy guide who founded Shinrin Yoku Los Angeles. He recently returned to his home in Southern California after training a cohort of forest therapy guides toward certification in Sonoma County — a week-long program popular enough to have a waiting list.
Those that practice Shinrin-yoku explain that it differs from hiking or informative nature excursions because it centers on the therapeutic aspects of forest bathing. It's where mindfulness meets nature.
While the exact mechanisms of Shinrin-yoku remain largely unknown, the practice itself continues to spread — perhaps as a backlash against modern society’s obsession with indoor-use technology and office culture. Amos Clifford, a wilderness guide based in the San Francisco Bay Area, founded the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy in 2012. For a tuition fee, the organization offers forest therapy guide certification programs. Besides U.S.-based training in Northern California and Massachusetts, others are scheduled for next year in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa.
Numerous US parks and resorts now offer guided forest-bathing activities, including hikes, meditation, and yoga under the canopy. “You walk out of the forest with your shoulders lower and more space and silence in your mind,” says Hope Parks, Wellhouse supervisor and fitness instructor at Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm resort, which offers a Deep Healing Woods program.
So, if your yoga studios and Starbucks lose their mystical edge, you can always try doing a swan dive into forest bathing. It's the new mindfulness. Or is that mindlessness?
And we are ashamed talk about the new Ecosexual Movement, where misguided people actually claim to have sex with the earth---the very basis of paganism and the worst form of idolatrous narcissism (Ephesians 5:12).
What these individuals fail to ask is why Nature has such a calming and stimulating effect. Failure to answer this underlying question undermines the value of the temporary relief we derive from such an activity. A stress-relieving moment with nature needs an ultimate, rewarding explanation of Nature’s source and meaning.
Self-generated matter that may accidentally became “personal” is an irrational and dissatisfying explanation of reality. We never observe a log becoming a person. It is always a log. In considering the world around us, we can come to only one of two possible conclusions: either matter creates itself or a personal transcendent Creator is at the source of reality. These are the only two options, as the Apostle Paul shows in Romans 1:25.
“They exchanged the truth about God for the lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen" (Romans 1:25).
Paul assures us that we must “worship and serve the Creator, who is blessed forever.” This is the only genuine worship. Furthermore, only the eternally blessed Creator, whose “glory is set above the heavens” (Ps. 8:1), can be the ultimate and effective Savior of His creation.
Nothing in man or in the creation can ever save us. This is the good news of the Everlasting Gospel. God enters His own creation to bear its sin in the atoning death of God the Son.