Whole Life Magazine

February / March 2019

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/1079232

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February/March 2019 7 city of angels S tudies have shown that we as a society are deficient in one important nutrient: "N" for Nature. This is especially true of urban dwellers. Richard Louv wrote about the lack of Vitamin "N," referring to it as the Nature Deficit Disorder in his book The Nature Principle. Louv asserted that our souls desperately seek to go outside, to be with Nature, to drink it in, and make it a part of us. We are one with Nature already, but we have forgotten. The act of going out into the forest, for example, is one way to reconnect. So, what is forest bathing and how can it increase your Vitamin "N" level? The Japanese recognized the importance of forest walks for healing both our bodies and our spirits. Called Shinrin-yoku or Forest Therapy, forest bathing simply means taking in the atmosphere of the forest for its healing benefits. Some of the health benefits of forest bathing include boosting immunity, improving mental clarity, and decreasing anxiety. Researchers think it may be beneficial for children who have been diagnosed with ADHD. Much has been written on the benefits of spending time quietly under the canopy of a living forest, and people all over the world are seeking out the health and spiritual benefits that time in Nature provides. In fact, by the end of 2016, there were more than 60 Forest Therapy Camps in Japan alone. But you don't have to travel the world over to experience the spirits of the trees and reconnect with Nature. It is possible to walk in a forest right here in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia, for example, offers walks through the grounds with a certified Forest Bather to guide you. Certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Bathers (ANFB), the spiritual guides are trained in this ancient Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku. This Spring, there are ongoing two-hour Saturday walks through the forests of the Arboretum with a spirit leader to guide you. The forest is a special place, a complete ecosystem unto itself. When you enter the dark forest, there is an earthy smell of leaf litter under your feet, alive with the energy of busy insects. Not only are you communing with the spirits of the trees, but also the wildlife that makes its home there. Take a quiet moment: sit with your back to the bark of a tree trunk and gaze at a shaft of sunlight that crosses through the forest. Just breatheā€¦. Whether you visit a forest with a guide or not, these magical trees offer the opportunity to deepen your relationship with the natural world. This Valentine's Day, why not take a forest bath with your partner and together share an intimate spiritual reboot? The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden is located at 301 North Baldwin Ave in Arcadia. For more information about the Saturday Forest Bathing walks, call 626.821.3222 or visit www.arboretum.org and click Calendar. Try Forest Bathing! NEED MORE VITAMIN "N"? By Kathy Vilim Photos: Courtesy of The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

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