In Buddhism, trees have long been appreciated as spiritual teachers and companions. After all, Gautama Siddhartha was enlightened while sitting under a Bodhi tree. In Thailand, forest monks perform tree ordination ceremonies as a way to declare trees sacred and to preserve forests. They hang signs on their vast trunks to remind others that "to harm the forest is to harm life."

In Quartz Ephrat Livini describes the spiritual practice of "forest bathing." He discusses how we can benefit from just being in the presence of trees. He explains, "You can sit or meander, but the point is to relax rather than accomplish anything."

From 2004 to 2012, Japanese officials spent $4 million dollars studying the physiological and psychological effects of being present in a green cathedral of trees. These tests and others have shown that forest environments lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, reduce depression scores, and soothe the spirits. Researchers have concluded that forests should be viewed as "therapeutic landscapes." (The studies are fascinating; check out Livini's article for details.)

Gregg Berman, a wilderness expert and certified forest bathing guide in California, advises members of his group as they begin their walk to pick up a rock, put a problem in it, and then drop it. They can, if they so desire, pick up their troubles when they leave. But nobody does — another benefit of forest bathing!

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