Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Researchers primarily in Japan and South Korea have established a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest. Now their research is helping to establish shinrin-yoku and forest therapy throughout the world.
The idea is simple: if a person visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved. Reconnecting with the forest using a range of sensory experiences, mindfulness practices and nature connection exercises enhance the experience and could boost health benefits. Forest therapy approaches such as Shinrin-yoku have roots in many cultures throughout history. John Muir wrote, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home. Wilderness is a necessity.”
Forest bathing health benefits could include:
- Increased immune function
- Decreased heart rate and blood pressure
- Lower stress, anxiety and depression symptoms.
- Improved sleep and energy levels.
- Reduced inflammation and sore muscles.
The Shinrin-Yoku Society of Kentuckiana aims to provide community, resources and support for people who wish to learn and practice forest bathing. By providing guided walks, retreats, workshops and nature connection events we hope to re-connect people to their ancestral home – the forest canopy, lush meadows or a rushing riverbank.
“Nature, too, supports our personal blossoming (if we have any quiet exposure to her) through her spontaneities, through her beauty, power, and mirroring, through her dazzling variety of species and habitats, and by way of the wind, Moon, Sun, stars, and galaxies.”
― Bill Plotkin,
Meet Our Community Leaders:
President and Founder – Jennifer Owens, LCSW is a certified ecotherapist and nature connection guide. She is the Wellness Director of Bridge Counseling and Wellness, an integrative mental health center in Louisville, Ky and provides nature based therapy, retreats and workshops. Jennifer is also a Kentucky Master Naturalist and has studied with Animus Valley Institute, Earthbody Institute and Wildcraft Forest School and has presented at a national Ecopsychology conference on Shinrin-Yoku in clinical practice.
Jennifer has experience leading groups in outdoor activities such as backpacking, kayaking, hiking and loves nothing more that to witness a woman’s first time waking up in a tent, starting a fire with a flint or walking barefoot on moss. Jennifer also leads monthly community based Shinrin-Yoku walks in the Louisville area. A Kentucky native, Jennifer is passionate about connecting women to their wild nature, authentic selves and fostering the tender nurturing and protection of our planet Earth. She loves climbing trees, camping under the stars and traveling the world in search of high mountain peaks and communion with her “other than human” family.
Vice-President – Jordan Dye, MSW, is a certified social worker and yoga instructor who co-leads mindfulness and healthy relationship programs. Her 20-year meditation practice parallels her deep exploration of nature, which began in the US and extends to Peru, Ecuador, and Southern Africa, where she served in the U.S. Peace Corps. Jordan’s spiritual journey has incorporated Catholicism, Science of Mind, the Bahai Faith and, for the past 20 years, focused on Insight and Zen Buddhist practices. The exploration of the inner landscape through meditation and the outer landscape of nature intersect beautifully for her in Forest Bathing. She feels most alive when holding space for others’ personal and spiritual growth. Jordan also enjoys organic gardening and interacting with the generous critters who share the harvest with her and her husband.