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In times of stress, is your natural reaction to retreat to nature? The majestic beauty of Mother Nature has no demands on us; yet, like a calming mandala, she draws our attention to her serenity. She silences the constant ‘thought-chatter’ in our minds and allows us to take a break from the craziness of our noisy world. Our whole being relaxes as we expand into the natural landscape and begin to feel at one with all things. An experience such as this is what people are calling nature therapy, also known as “ecotherapy”, “earth-centered therapy”, or “green therapy”.
Various methods of nature therapy are trending in wellness centers and spas around the world. One such method, “forest bathing” or “shinrin yoku”, was developed in Japan in the 1980’s and is now a common practice in Japanese culture. In forest bathing, the participant to walks and spends time in the woods while mindfully immersing their senses to the natural surroundings. The psychological benefits that people reported were so remarkable that researchers around the world have been conducting studies to discover more on the healing powers of nature.
Evidence shows that spending time around trees and plants reduces stress hormones and improves blood pressure. One study showed a 40% surge in activity of cancer-fighting cells in women who walked in the woods two to four hours for two consecutive days. Researchers in another study determined that 90% of participants who suffered from depression felt a higher level of self-esteem after a walk through a country park. In addition, almost three-quarters felt less depressed. In other various studies, people experienced reduced pain, improved sleep patterns, and elevated moods and energy levels. Some hospitals are even implementing “green spaces” for patients to spend time in for quicker recovery.
Nature therapy in the tropical rainforests and jungles provide amazing healing aspects, but also a unique environment for wilderness immersion. Rainforests cover 2% of the earth’s total surface and hold over 50% of the earth’s species. When visiting these lush forests, it’s clear that the earth still holds great wonders to be discovered. Scientists estimate the number of potentially useful medicinal plants growing in the world’s rainforests is to be in the thousands.
Here, in the jungles of Costa Rica, there are nearly 100 species of trees. It’s considered one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. There’s something indescribably special about coming into contact with the wilderness here. Being among this incredibly stunning eco-system, you realize you belong to a rich and intricate network within the web of life. Treading softly in this ancient sanctuary reconnects you to the heart of Mother Nature, offering well-being and healing benefits that are palpable, measureable, and residual.