Connecting with nature and opening your senses – that’s what Shinrin-yoku walks are all about.
“So when we go on a walk we provide opportunities, we call them invitations, for people to engage in different exercises within the natural environment. And the intent behind them is to get people to connect with nature in new ways or different ways than they’re typically accustomed to doing in nature,” explained Jodi Trandler, the executive director of The Resiliency Institute.
Those exercises can include deep breathing, exploring the landscape, and finding a part of that environment that speaks to you.
Shinrin-yoku began in japan in the 1980s and has since spread, prompting those like Jodi with The Resiliency Institute to bring the practice to Naperville.
“I’ve read about this technique that they use in Japan and of course we know that the Japanese people are some of the healthiest people in the world,” said a Shinrin-yoku walker Janice Duplex. “Is it based on their diet, is it based on genetics, is it based on all the exercise they do? So I’m really curious.”
The guided mindfulness walk typically lasts three hours and has shown positive effects on physical and mental health.
“A lot of what’s being done in Japan has shown significant decreased levels in cortisol,” said Trendler. “Increase cortisol is the reason for a lot of our typical health concerns that are plaguing our society today. They’ve shown an increase in NK cells, which are natural killer cells that help fight cancer, fight a lot of different types of cancer. So just those too things alone have enormous impacts on our health as a society.”
Besides bettering ourselves, the walks benefit the earth too.
“And the more people connect to these places and on a deeper level with these places, it gives people an incentive to want to go out and take care of them and tend them and be in them,” added Trendler.
The Resiliency Institute will be leading Shinrin-yoku at its monthly free first Friday walks, along with other nature walks throughout the season. You can learn more on their website.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.