Forest therapy reawakens human connection to the natural world

By Barbara Fraser
National Catholic Reporter
November 26, 2020

A small but growing number of scientific studies indicate that spending time in a natural setting can improve health, reduce stress and anxiety and strengthen the immune system. One author has given the name “nature deficit disorder” to the lack of contact with the natural world — something we may not even realize we’re missing.

Forest therapy is based on the practice of shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” which arose in Japan in the 1980s as an antidote to the high-tech, urban, indoor lifestyle. The idea is to immerse oneself meditatively in the natural world, not so much looking as feeling.

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