Yes that’s what I thought! What on earth is that?
Well apparently it puts forward the idea that there is a natural bond between us as human beings and all other living things.
Last month the psychology group in the local U3A where we live had a speaker on Biophila that made me realize how important the subject is for us as a group.
For instance one study looked at 46 patients who had an operation to remove their gall bladder. They were divided into matched pairs in terms of age sex, etc. For post-operative recovery one of each pair was put into a room looking out onto a blank wall while the other one was put into a room looking out onto a view of trees and fields.
The results were dramatic. With a view of nature self-administration of painkillers was lower, post- operative stay in hospital was shorter and the patient satisfaction rating of the hospital was higher.
In another study patients undergoing dental extraction could see either see a poster of a waterfall or a tropical fish aquarium or receive prior hypnosis or have no views or prior treatment. Blood pressure, heart rate and psychological anxiety measures showed that the greatest degree of relaxation occurred in patients undergoing either watching the tropical fish or undergoing hypnosis.
Having once had a tropical fish aquarium I can really appreciate this study and though we haven’t got a tank here we have got a hypnotherapist.
An article in this Newsletter a few years ago reported a study by Essex University showing that anxiety levels were lowered far more effectively by a walk in the country than by a walk in a town.
So perhaps we do have that natural bond with nature and can use it to our advantage.
Forest Bathing or Shinrinyoku’ as it is called in Japan where it was developed has now been extensively studied.
Forest Bathing is simply spending time quietly walking through forest areas focusing on what you can see, the trees, shrubs, wild flowers, focusing on the sounds you can hear, the birds, the wind rustling the trees, focusing on the smells of wood vapours and wild flowers.
Essentially this is meditating on nature.
In Japan it is a recognized way of reducing stress and anxiety. Research there has shown that it decreases anxiety, depression and anger while increasing energy.
But the most interesting one for us is the positive effect on the immune system in that it has been shown to increase the activity of the body’s natural killer cells one of the immune system’s defenses against cancer.
In Japan Forest Bathing has become a cornerstone of preventative medicine.