The Japanese also believe these chemicals increase white blood cell counts and may help kill tumor and virus infected cells. According to the NY Department of Environmental Conservation, “Japanese researchers are currently exploring whether exposure to forests can help prevent certain kinds of cancer.”
Forest bathing is a gentle, two-and-a-half-hour meander through the woods with Fidati occasionally pausing those on the walk to make an observation or suggestion for ways to connect their senses in the natural setting.
“We’re trying to get out of our minds and pay attention in the present moment,” says Fidati. “When we are in our senses and paying attention to our sensory input we really have very little bandwidth for anything else.”
Fidati notes humans used to have to rely on paying attention to our senses to survive. But with so many current day distractions, we don’t take time anymore to reconnect.
While guided forest bathing may or may not actually promote physical healing, Fidati has seen it help with emotional healing. A breast cancer survivor herself, Fidati has been able to take a few of her friends who are also survivors out for a walk.
“I had a couple of people really be able to process their grief over having gone through cancer treatment and how difficult it was,” she said. “A lot of emotion came up that they didn’t even realize they were holding onto.”
CNC Senior Director of Learning and Engagement, Alicia Thompson, points out that being able to pause and take time in nature is a privilege. The Chattahoochee Nature Center is a community resource that aims to provide a safe and welcoming environment where people can connect with nature.
“As much as participating in forest bathing benefits the participant, the awareness and appreciation for nature that you experience ultimately will benefit nature as well,” said Thompson. “That awareness and appreciation leads to a stewardship we find important here at the nature center as well.”
Guided forest bathing walks are limited to 15 people and are scheduled regularly through the fall with plans to resume next spring. The next opportunity is 9-11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15. Registration: www.tinyurl.com/CNCCForestBathing.