Forest Bathing – Increasing Community Wellness Through Greater Access to Greenspace

A group gathers for the Forest Bathing walk, reflecting on their experiences and finding connections to nature. Eleven people stand in a circle spread out on a sunny day. It is shaded under the forest canopy.

On Saturday, March 5th,  nineteen community members participated in an Introduction to Forest Bathing. This event was hosted at Seward Park by the Adult Athletics and Environmental Engagement units at SPR. The participants were guided with a series of invitations using their senses and drawing their attention to the natural environment. Participants experienced nature individually with a sense of solitude and had opportunities to share as a group and to connect to other participants. At the conclusion of the 2-hour guided walk, they gathered for a tea ceremony with cedar tea and a snack provided by the guide.

Humans have always received health benefits from nature forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku which literally translates as “forest bath”. Forest bathing was formalized in Japan as a health treatment after a startling increase in auto-immune disease was discovered in Japan during the early 80’s. The health benefits of Forest Bathing include boosted immune function, improved cardiovascular and respiratory health, attention restoration, a reduction in stress and depression, and an increased sense of wellbeing. At Seward Park, participants experienced a style of forest bathing that was developed in the United States by the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy Guides and Programs (ANFT). It derives the same health benefits as Shinrin-yoku while emphasizing the principle of reciprocity and the relationship between humans beings and the more than human world.

This event was led by Merica Whitehall of Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd Forest Bathing. Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd is a reference to the Big Dipper and Little Dipper; the constellations that guided African Americans North as they traveled under the stars making their way to freedom from slavery. Similarly, forest bathing and nature connection is a way for people today to experience a sense of freedom and well-being.

Upcoming Sessions are listed below. Register here.

Discovery Park – March 19, 2022 –  Activity Number:  47411

Camp Long – March 26, 2022  – Activity Number:  47412

For more information contact Jayson.Powell@seattle.gov

A picture in the forest at Seward Park shows a walking trail leading between two trees. It is sunny out and the path is shaded by the forest canopy.