I have just landed in Lisbon coming back from Rome where I attended to a conference. I’m back home, back to the forest. A journey from theory to practice.
I just enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the Living in the Anthropocene Forum Forest Medicine & Biophilia which has been a real pleasure. My participation at the conference was focused on my field experience on applying Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-Yoku, and from there moving them to a Forest Therapy Intervention in the context of Mental Health and Social Health. Experience based on the framework programs of the Instituto de Baños de Bosque and the European Forest Therapy Institute.
I shared a round table with Dr. Li (China) and Dr. Cipparone (Italy), where we discussed the future of Forest Medicine in the urban context. Science has come to consolidate the benefits of urban green spaces. The conclusion is that socio-economic and cultural factors are added to these benefits. Something as simple as the ease of enjoying a green space of proximity, which provides security and combines many of the health benefits offered by the forest: stress and anxiety reduction. A place, a parenthesis, in the daily life of many urbanites.
Witnessing projects aimed at increasing children contact with nature in an unstructured way, inspires me to continue working harder every day. Also, the inclusion of adolescents in this process with new approaches, perhaps less orthodox, that are clearly succeeding. The application of the concept of Biophilia and sustainable construction, as a foundation for an urban development in which science, design and nature are conjugated, is now included in the urban and architectural planning. The conclusion is that nothing is sustainable unless it is socially sustainable: accessible to all and inclusive.
Beyond the literature, in the conference I had the opportunity to know from the hand of its creator how and what the Shinrin-Yoku consists of, or how we insist on calling it here: Forest Bathing. Based on the experience of all the practices that are called Forest Bathing in the West, my biggest learning, and the fact that has surprised me the most, is the ability of the human being to stretch concepts like chewing gum, give them a spin like to an omelette and shape them like clay. In short, create a dysfunction under a new perspective that suits the pragmatic reality of their needs.
As I said, when you’re in Rome, do like the Romans. Practice Shinrin-Yoku.
About the conference: https://bit.ly/2HJe7Is
Alex is a Certified Forest therapy Guide. Trainer and Mentor of guides by the European Forest Therapy Institute (EFTI), being one of its founder members. Alex is the founder of the Instituto de Baños de Bosque and the Instituto de Banhos de Floresta de Portugal and collaborated as a consultant specialist in the expert group on Human Health and Well-being to the Forest Europe, Ministerial Conference on the Protection of forests in Europe.
Alex is the author of “Sentir el bosque: La experiencia del Shinrin-Yoku (baño de bosque)”, Grijalbo, edited by Penguin Random House Editorial Group.