We learned about the Forest-Bathing Club in San Francisco when some of the people who took part in this told us how much they loved the beautiful forest on Mount Sutro. Trees have been shown to improve health and well-being, and this Club is doing exactly that. (The link is to University of Wisconsin research.)
Here’s an article about it, written by the Club’s founder. [Pictures are attributed to her. Please ask permission before using them.]
Forest Bathing is based on the Japanese term shinrin-yoku, which means “luxuriating in nature.” In 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries coined the practice of going into the forest to soak in the sights, smells, and sounds. It’s been scientifically proven to lower stress and is even included as part of health insurance. This practice has begin to gain popularity in the United States in recent years.
I started The Forest Bathing Club when I moved back to San Francisco after two years living in New York City. I had moved to NYC for an MFA in design at The School of Visual Arts. I didn’t realize how much of an effect not being close to nature had on me until I found myself with severe seasonal affective disorder. I realized that there are so many ways nature effects our mental health but most people aren’t even aware that they are suffering from a disconnection from nature. I ended up doing my graduate thesis on these mental health effects (known as psychoterratic disorders) and the cures. The cure is to bring people together to heal themselves, their communities, and the planet. That is the vision of The Forest Bathing Club.
The mission of club is to make the benefits of nature accessible to as many people as possible. We have regular meet ups in and around San Francisco, often in Sutro Forest! It’s important to me that we have events in the city because so many people think that you have to cross a bridge to get into nature when really nature is all around us. As Chief Oren Lyons says, “The environment isn’t over here. The environment isn’t over there. You are the environment.”
Sutro Forest is the perfect spot for a forest bath because it’s accessible and we can circle up at the top to share a moment of mindfulness together. It’s really important to me to share this magical forest with as many people as possible to help them understand the current situation of the forest. San Francisco is evolving, just as forests in nature evolve, and it’s important that we are aware of this so we can guide the evolution in a way that benefits people and the planet.
We also host events in Land’s End, Glen Park Canyon, and The Presidio. We are gearing up to do a special event this summer on Mt. Tamalpais called Re-opening the Mountain, it’s based on a practice developed by beat poets in the 1960s.
As a designer, I’ve designed the experience of forest bathing club events to activate people and allow them to drop deeper into nature as a way to promote healing. The experiences can be described as a yoga class meets a hike. There are different activities and prompts. And of course, there are always healthy, high vibrational snacks.
You can stay up to date about The Forest Bathing club here: forestbathing.club