The Forest Bathing Institute plays host to BBC2’s ‘Stories of Us’
10th August 2020
The Surrey Hills have built up a reputation for being an area of outstanding natural beauty. Surrounded by rolling hills and ancient woodland, Newlands Corner, near Guildford is at the heart of Surrey. With its stunning landscape and unspoilt beauty, this natural environment which extends for over 163 square miles, will uplift the spirits of even the most stressed out Executive.
Combine this with a noticeable shift that is happening across the UK in appreciating and conserving the environment. In recent months in particular, a love for spending more quality time out in nature has come to the fore, as the UK has had to cope with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The physiological health benefits, along with the joy of strolling mindfully through beautiful woodland and ancient forests has extended to the ears of the producers of the new BBC2 series, ‘Stories of Us’. The Reverend Kate Bottley and co-presenter, broadcaster, Ashley John-Baptiste travel around the UK mapping out the nation’s quest for peace and spirituality, away from the four walls of the Church.
‘Stories of Us’ is highly personal and explores the different ways in which we seek peace, harmony and tranquillity, by retreating into nature and re-connecting with its restorative powers of healing. With this aim in mind, the Reverend Kate Bottley and co-presenter, broadcaster Ashley John-Baptiste spent a day with The Forest Bathing Institute last Autumn to experience for themselves, Forest Bathing+. Their experience was filmed as a documentary, (planned to be shown on Sunday 16th August), and highlights the first broadcast edition of ground breaking scientific research conducted in collaboration with The University of Derby during 2019 whereby positive physiological changes were measured in participants as a result of being in a woodland environment. These pilot studies are the first step towards replicating the Japanese system of integration between ancient forests, woodland and healthcare, especially with the NHS.
The medical and health benefits of Forest Bathing or ‘Shinrin-yoku’ have long been proven in Japan, where it is socially prescribed on the NHS health system for people suffering from mental health issues and ill-health. These scientifically proven health benefits have now reached the shores of the UK, where further scientific research studies are being planned for 2020, with the overall aim of having Forest Bathing+ socially prescribed on the NHS here.
The documentary capture’s the guided, mindful stroll through the forest, where the Forest Bathing+ Guides encourage the activation and engagement of all the senses, through structured scenarios, underpinned by a mindfulness practice. Sharing of experiences and group participation has also shown to help people open-up about their feelings and emotions.
One of the Forest Bathing+ immersive nature therapy sessions was run for young adults with learning difficulties including Autism. One participant, normally in a wheelchair, due to severe pain, managed to walk for almost 2.5 hours, taking regular breaks. He was delighted and his carer said it was almost a miracle!
Stepping away from the demands of 21st Century life and the call of technology enables us to literally re-charge and gain a fresh, renewed perspective. Gary Evans, Co-Founder and Director of TFBI said, ‘The opportunity to work with the BBC on the production of this episode of ‘Stories of Us’ has been fantastic. We are overjoyed that more people will be able to tap into the health-giving benefits of mindfully walking through woodland and ancient forests.
Gary continues; Our aim is to work with the NHS to have Forest Bathing+ socially prescribed throughout the NHS system. In addition, our programme of Forest Bathing+ is helping to conserve the precious woodland environment and save our ancient forests and natural habitat’.