DARIEN, Conn. – Board members with the Tree Conservancy of Darien are dedicated to preserving and enhancing tree resources in town — but even they learned something new about the health benefits of the forest.
They recently participated in a Shinrin-yoku walk hosted by Jeffrey and Donna Wyant, who are certified forest therapy guide candidates with the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy Guides & Programs.
”It was unanimous that everyone who participated felt a renewed appreciation of the natural world around us and an increased sense of peace and serenity, certainly a welcome respite from our everyday worlds,” said TCD board member Ginger Morgan.
Shinrin-yoku, developed in the 1980s in Japan, is translated into English as "forest bathing." It is a guided sensory immersion in a forest, or in the other-than-human world of nature.
Studies have shown that Shinrin-yoku walks can lower blood pressure, reduce stress levels, and increase a sense of well-being among participants. It has recently been called “the latest fitness trend to hit the U.S.” by the Washington Post.
“Realizing yet another benefit to maintaining trees and forests, really excites us as a group that has the well-being of the community in mind. Gaining health benefits from being near trees makes them even more valuable to us,” said Tree Conservancy chair Sabina Harris. “We were thrilled to be invited and we are considering hosting a Shinrin-yoku walk open to the community next spring.”
The Tree Conservancy’s forest bathing walk was an unhurried two-hour engagement with nature. It began with the forest guides inviting them to leave any worries behind at the beginning of the trail. They were then focused on a sensory connection with the living world around them through a series of "invitations," each guiding them to establish mindfulness of place and to open their senses to the healing power of nature.
The group was encouraged to deepen their relationship with nature, at times closing their eyes and listening to forest sounds, breathing in and tasting the forest air and experiencing natures own aromatherapy, at a slow and deliberate pace.
A heightened awareness of nature brought with it an indisputable calm and many readily offered reflections on simpler times and outdoor experiences as youth. The walk concluded with a tea ceremony with tea made from local herbs.
Tree Conservancy of Darien is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the tree and forest resources of Darien for the benefit of the community, its health and its quality of life.
For more information or to donate to Tree Conservancy of Darien, visit treeconservancyofdarien.org or email email@example.com.