When James Walker Tufts purchased 5,800 acres of forest land in 1895, he had a philanthropic vision to create a health retreat to allow workers access to the healing properties of the forest. An element they called “pine ozone”.
Now, in 2022, Pinehurst Parks and Recreation will offer people the opportunity to do just that, reconnect with the health and wellness benefits of immersion in natural environments in an activity called “forest bathing.” .
The term forest bathing refers to conscious bathing of one’s senses in the forest environment and is the literal English translation of the Japanese word “shinrinyoku”. This practice of forest bathing has become standard preventative medicine in the Japanese healthcare system in response to the destructive health effects of stress associated with rapid technological advances and urbanization.
The forest bath will be led by Lara Beth Jones, licensed occupational therapist and certified nature and forest therapy guide. Participants will experience a variety of sensory mindfulness meditation techniques in relation to the forest environment.
Studies have shown a wide range of health benefits that spending time in nature’s mindfulness can bring, a few of which include: reduced stress, lower blood pressure, improved variability heart rate, faster recovery from illness and surgery, improved sleep, improved mood, and an increased sense of well-being.
“It’s an opportunity to deepen our experience of connecting to the beautiful and unique ecosystem we inhabit in the Sandhills while taking care of our health through self-care,” Jones said.
Forest bathing will be held monthly at the Pinehurst Village Arboretum on February 22, March 22, April 19 and May 17. Interested participants can register online at the Village of Pinehurst Parks and Recreation website at www.vopnc.org.