Take a Forest Bath with GaLTT

Jenni Gehlbach

Gabriola Land and Trails Trust (GaLTT)

Wednesday, July 3 2019

A summer swim in the ocean can be refreshing but Rob Brockley (President, Gabriola Land & Trails Trust) says frequent dips in the forest can make you a happier and healthier person. “I’ve worked and played in forests my entire life, but only recently did I learn that it’s also good for me,” he says. 

Inspired by ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices, ‘forest bathing’ (shinrin-yoku) promotes health, wellness, and happiness through immersion in forests and other natural environments. The purpose is to slow down and let the natural environment enter the body through all five senses. Scientific studies have shown a wide array of physical health benefits, especially in the cardiovascular and immune systems, and for stabilizing and improving mental health issues such as depression. The specific sources of these benefits are not fully known but are likely related to the aerosols emitted from forest trees and plants. “It’s a natural form of aromatherapy,” Brockley says. Research also indicates that the sensory stimulation provided in a natural environment reduces stress and mental fatigue. 

The primary goal of forest bathing walks is not socializing or physical exercise. Slow, gentle and quiet are the basic principles, and it takes practice to learn to appreciate nature through all five senses. “What starts out as knowledge that forests are largely green evolves into a realization that there are actually a wide range of shades and tones of green,” Brockley says. “By looking closely, you can also find a surprisingly large number of other colours.” 

Listening, touching, smelling and tasting are also important parts of the experience. Rob’s favourite time to forest bath is in the early morning and evening. “It’s quieter, the air is moister and more fragrant, and the sounds of the forest are easier to hear,” he says.

Would you like to learn to experience forests in a different way? 

If so, please join Rob Brockley on Friday evening, July 12 at 7pm for an easy 1.8 km forest bathing stroll through the Elder Cedar Nature Reserve (south of Tait Rd on North Rd). It will be very relaxing and may even be good for you.    

Other walks being held by GaLTT this summer:

• July 11 at 2 pm  Blue Heron Community park: Pebbles & small cobbles on whalebone beach with Nick Doe. GaLTT family event—wear good shoes.

• Aug. 8 at 9 pm. GaLTT Night Walk with Libby Gunn.  Location to be decided; see www.galtt.ca 

• Aug. 30, 9 pm. GaLTT Night Trail Cycle with Derrill Shuttleworth. Meet at Tin Can Alley at North Rd. 12 yrs and up. Helmets and bike lights required.