What are Mood Walks?
Shinrin-yoku (森林浴) is the Japanese practice of “forest bathing” or immersing oneself in the atmosphere of the forest for relaxation and health care. Rooted in scientific research, forest therapy is proving to be the most effective antidote to our modern, technology-driven lifestyles. By slowing down and immersing our senses in nature, our brains and nervous systems are calmed, we reawaken to the beauties of life, and our bodies heal and restore themselves. The health benefits of this practice include deep relaxation, improved sleep, lower blood pressure, stronger immune system, sensory awareness, mental focus, creativity, and a positive state of mind.
Nature is the source of life and intrinsic to our wellbeing. We evolved to be in intimate connection with the natural world and to know and respect it as a living entity. Today our lives have been largely severed from nature, and we are suffering from a global epidemic of “nature deficit disorder” and serious stress-related issues. Despite this, our deep connection with nature remains, including nature’s power to restore and heal us, and we can still come home to it.
Japan is home to some of the most beautiful forests and healthy, hard-working people on the planet. The practice of shinrin-yoku was introduced in Japan 1982 as a response tokaroshi or “death by overwork,” and today there are some 60 designated Forest Therapy Trails across the country that millions of people visit annually for stress relief and preventative health care. South Korea has followed suit, and the rest of the world is now learning from their examples.
Nature as health care? Yes. A growing number of studies by researchers worldwide show that exposure to nature provides us with many important physical and mental health benefits. Nature lowers the stress hormone cortisol, calms the nervous system, and strengthens the immune system. It makes us less anxious, angry, and depressed. Nature speeds recovery time after illness and injury. Contact with soil improves cognitive function, decreases anxiety, and elevates mood. Inhaling the scent evergreen trees increases our body’s ability to fight tumors and protect us from cancer. Nature boosts physical and mental energy, focus, and creativity. It even makes us kinder.
Regular exposure to nature — even 30 minutes a day — can connect you to its healing powers. Unlike our technology devices, nature connects us with living plants, animals, mountains, oceans, ecosystems, other people, our ancestors, memories, dreams, and more. Turning off your devices and looking at the sky may be the most interesting, powerful action of your day. If you cannot remember the last time you walked barefoot on the grass, it’s definitely time for some shinrin-yoku.
What Happens on a Mood Walk?
Our walks offer a highly unique, enjoyable, effective way to reconnect with the natural world. Mood Walks combines leisurely 1-3hr walks on gentle paths under forest canopy with guided activities and meditations to help you open your senses, hone your intuition, and experience the forest as you never have before. We draw upon mindfulness meditation practices, and the techniques of deep nature connection mentoring. We also use the Way of Council for group discussions at several points along the walk, which helps participants learn from and teach other as we discuss what we are experiencing together.
A Little Handbook of Shinrin-Yoku – Amos Clifford
Your Brain on Nature – Eva M. Selhub and Alan C. Logan
The Nature Principle – Richard Louv
Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind – Linda Buzzell & Craig Chalquist (editors)
and many more!
Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning – Outside Magazine
This is Your Brain on Nature – National Geographic Magazine
"These walks are a great experience for families. Lots of moments of joy, connection and reflection for all ages. Our kids (9, 12 & 13) said they expected our hike to be boring. Instead they found this time to be fun, stimulating and interesting. Do your family a favor and feel a new sense of connection that is hard to replicate in the grind of work, school and playdates." -Parent participant from a privately guided family Mood Walk
"A life changing experience for me and my family. I feel changed and confident my children will see each experience in nature in a more in-tune way. I also can imagine that the lessons we learned from nature today will have a resounding affect on our day to day lives. One of the greatest gifs we could have given our family."
-Parent participant on a privately guided family Mood Walk
"This walk was the highlight of my weekend. I arrived that day feeling burdened by some circumstances in life and also feeling a little anxious and unsure of what to expect. Over the course of a few hours, I could feel myself shedding those feelings and embracing new ones."
"I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to try it. Our guide shepherded us individually and as a couple. He was supportive, insightful."
"I would highly recommend this to anyone who is looking to de-stress, slow down, move more mindfully and find some peace."