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Spring forest scene with azeleas along a path. Photo graph by Peter Ellis licensed under Creative Commons By Attribution
The Enchanted Forest: Seeking Balance in Nature
April 24, 2020
We explore the growing practice of a Japanese inspired forest “bathing” and how this modern tradition has roots in ancient Shinto rituals.
An Invitation to Wander in the Woods: Forest Bathing and it's Shinto Origins. April 24, 2020
Long before smartphones, social media, and screen time, the Japanese Ministry of Health promoted immersing in nature to counter the negative effects of stress.  The prescription known as  Forest Bathing was described as a healing practice that would restore balance.  Decades later health research confirms its benefits in reducing blood pressure, stress hormones, and boosting immunity. Today the practice attracts a global following and is growing in popularity in the United States.  What makes it different from hiking or exercising outside? In this segment, Washington-DC based author and certified Forest Bathing therapist Melanie Choukas-Bradley takes host Amber Khan on a guided tour at the Woodend Sanctuary at the Audubon Naturalist Society headquarters in Washington, DC.

Melanie Choukas-Bradley, Author of The Joy of Forest Bathing: Reconnecting with Wild Places and Rejuvenate Your Life

Audubon Naturalist Society Woodend Sanctuary

Melanie Choukas Bradley
"The Joy of Forest Bathing" by Melanie Choukas Bradley and Lieke van der Vorst. Courtesy Rock Point
The Joy of Forest Bathing
Rock Point


As forest bathing or forest therapy grows in popularity, Melanie Choukas-Bradley offers listeners a preview of the experience. From the invitation to wander in the woods to a closing tea ceremony, Choukas-Bradley encourages listeners to adopt what she describes as a ‘wild home’ in nature. She is a trained, certified guide who attended a training in Japan to bring the practice home.  Among the benefits, say practitioners and some researchers, are relaxation, less stress, and fostering a deeper connection with nature. Forest bathing began in the 1980s and is known as shinrin-yoku, which means "taking in the forest."  Proponents argue it is rooted in the ancient Shinto tradition of purification.  That lineage is not so clear to Japanese historian and religious scholar Fabio Rambelli.  While he sees the relationship to rites of purification, he offers a historical context on the ancient and modern expressions of animism and Shinto beliefs.

Dr. Fabio Rambelli, University of California Santa Barbara, Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Cultures, International Shinto Foundation Chair in Shinto Studies, Chair of Religious Studies, and author of Spirits and Animism in Contemporary Japan: The Invisible Empire. Edited by Fabio Rambelli. London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2019.

Fabio Rebelli. Courtesy Universtiy of California at Santa Barbara

Fabio Rebelli

"Spirits and Animism in Contemporary Japan" edited by Fabio Rambelli. Courtesy Bloomsbury

Spirits and Animism in Contemporary Japan

Music for this week's episode by MC Yogi, and Blue Dot Sessions.

Music for Manatees
, Ancient Winds, and River Flute by  Kevin MacLeod/Incompitech
under Creative Commons By Attribution 4.0