The Art of Shinrin-yoku
Forest Bathing or shinrin-yoku originated in
Japan in the 1980’s.
It is the art of taking time to connect with the forest, absorbing all it has to offer through all the senses - sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.
The Japanese embraced this form of ecotherapy understanding its benefits, realising that time with nature is good for the human spirit. It is not a completely new practice as the concept has been embraced by many cultures since time began. But now the idea that the natural world can play a part in healing is being welcomed worldwide as what better place to take time out from the world to breathe deeply than in a forest.
Studies of shinrin-yoku have shown that time spent taking walks in the country's forests could in fact reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol levels and improve concentration and memory. A chemical released by trees and plants, called phytoncides, was found to boost the immune system. As more research highlighted the benefits of shinrin-yoku, the Japanese government incorporated it into the country’s health programme.
Dr Qing Li, the author of the book 'Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing' is a world expert and has conducted numerous studies. He himself regularly brings his lunch to the local park near his place of work, Nippon Medical School,
His book offers this advice for the practice of shinrin-yoku:
“Make sure you have left your phone and camera behind. You are going to be walking aimlessly and slowly. You don’t need any devices. Let your body be your guide. Listen to where it wants to take you. Follow your nose. And take your time. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get anywhere. You are not going anywhere. You are savouring the sounds, smells and sights of nature and letting the forest in.”
Forest bathing, although years behind Japan, is growing in Ireland.
Spending mindful, quiet time in the company of trees, under the protection of their leafy canopy, touching them, looking at the play of light and colour intermingled with the background sky, breathing in the pine-scented air, laying down and looking up through the branches and fluttering leaves,
letting everything just float by...
What's not to love...
Forest Bathing Guides
Nature To Go
Dr Kamila Kwasniewska, botanist and certified forest bathing guide, works towards connecting people with nature through five pathways: senses, emotion, beauty, meaning and compassion. She runs Nature Connection Workshops at Trinity College Botanic Gardens, a hidden gem of Dublin, helping to strengthen the human-nature relationship in urban areas.
Kamila also leads the immersive, multisensory Forest Bathing experience held in Vale of Clara, Co.Wicklow, which focuses on bringing attention to all the senses, improving well-being and boosting the immune system. After the session, a calm and relaxed state arises, giving a sense of deeper connectedness to the natural world. As an experienced plant scientist, she guides Forest Walks in Co.Wicklow, which provide insights into native tree species, wildlife and the importance of biodiversity to our happiness and strength.
Walk of Leaf
My name is Rosalinde. I offer life coaching in nature and forest bathing walks in counties Dublin and Wicklow. I love seeing people more connected with themselves, with each other and with nature. For many years, I have supported people affected by change and loss. I would be delighted to spend time intentionally with you outdoors. Come and join me!
Full Circle Change
Rachel Dempsey has been facilitating in the areas of wellness, creativity, change-making and holistic sustainability for over 20 years. Her mission is to connect inner transformation with positive change in the world around us. She offers forest bathing and forest song baths (singing in the forest) in Newtownmountkennedy in Wicklow and a range of other courses and retreats in singing, sustainability and global citizenship.
SARAH EVA MANSON
Do you get overwhelmed juggling so many tasks at home and at work? When was the last time you sat still beside a tree? When was the last time you sat still at all? Sarah gets it too. With two toddlers, work, home and studio life she rarely has time for herself, let alone having the time to meditate out in nature. Responsibilities, lockdown and overwhelm were constant companions for years until Sarah started opening her heart and mind to Forest Bathing. The gratitude she holds overflows within her and she can’t help but share it with others.
Amanda Marren Health Coach
Hi, my name is Amanda Marren, I am a Health and Wellbeing Coach with a passion for being in nature. Having felt and seen the benefits of what being in nature can do, I wanted to combine my love for nutrition, yoga, coaching and forest bathing to offer a integrated experience to each person. I will be holding walks in Wicklow and Dublin areas. Please contact me for more information or to book a walk.
Nature Connection with Ciara
Ciara Hinksman owns and runs Forest School Ireland – formerly Earth Force Education, founded in 2009. Her passion is facilitating place-based, learner-centred development through Forest Bathing, story, wildlife, plants, crafts and play whilst also following the natural cycles of our seasons and lives. She trains people to become qualified Forest School Leaders and is the founding chair of the Irish Forest School Association. Ciara is overjoyed to be part of the growing movement of Forest Bathing and Forest School and it’s community of practitioners in Ireland and around the world. Together we are working towards empowering people of all ages to develop and grow in community and in relationship to the Earth.
CATHELIJNE DE WIT
Avonmore Forest Bathing
Originally from the Netherlands, Cathelijne moved to Ireland because she fell in love with the natural landscape of the emerald isle. As a forest bathing guide she shares her love for nature and Ireland with others. She offers guided forest bathing experiences in collaboration with Tipi Adventures on the bank of the Avonmore river, just outside Rathdrum. The perfect location to connect with nature, slow down and re-energise.
Based in Arklow, for more than two decades now I have been working with a variety of holistic therapies and teaching Yoga, Wellbeing & Meditation. My passion is to help people open up to the amazing healing energy available all around us. Join me for some Japanese Forest Bathing infused with our Ancient Celtic Wisdom. My signature sessions coincide with the 8 festivals of the Celtic Wheel. We share knowledge of our celtic folklore, folk medicine, Poetry and of course the importance of our native Irish trees including the ancient wisdom of the ogham trees. At the end of every session a special “Seomra Sí” memento of our time together in the forest is given to all of our guests.
We have connected with several Forest Bathing Guides and each has taken
the concept in a different and varied direction.