The first forest healing center of the country was inaugurated recently in Ranikhet, Uttarakhand. The healing center is spread over an area of around 13 acres.
The forest healing center has been developed by the Research Wing of Uttarakhand Forest Department after research on the healing properties of the forests and its revitalizing impact on overall health and well-being.
Chief Conservator of Forest (Research), Sanjiv Chaturvedi, said, ”It draws inspiration from Japanese technique of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) and ancient Indian traditions, and that basic theme is – be silent, go slow, think less and feel more.”
He said that it involves many activities like forest walking, tree-hugging, forest meditation, and sky gazing.
Chaturvedi further informed that because of typical molecular vibration patterns of trees, tree-hugging has a beneficial impact on the increase in the level of feel-good hormones like oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, creating a pleasant effect. In countries like Iceland, the forest department has been making efforts to facilitate this activity to benefit the health of local citizens.
This forest healing center has been established in a pine-dominated forest, as it has been found in various studies that coniferous trees like Pine emit certain oil compounds to safeguard themselves from various microbes and pathogens, which are called phytoncides. It has been found in various researches that these compounds help to multiply natural killer (NK) cells in our blood, which help in fighting infections and cancerous growth and enhance overall immunity.
Another important activity in this healing center is forest meditation, which is distinct from the traditional meditation system of controlling thoughts or concentrating awareness on some particular point. This practice is based more on immersing oneself in silence and the ambiance of the forest without making any extra effort.
Another activity is sky gazing, which involves having a gaze at the swaying canopy above and the ever-changing sky. This uncommon view offers a new perspective as well as deep relaxation.
Various self-explanatory boards explaining these four activities in a simple language have been placed at the very entrance and also the instructions for leaving behind the phone, camera, or any other distraction and also resist talking if people move in groups. For forest meditation and sky-gazing exercise, tree platforms have also been created.