The First Forest Healing centre of the country was inaugurated at Ranikhet in Kalika Uttarakhand, spread over an area of 13 acres. The forest healing centre has been developed by the Research Wing of Uttarakhand Forest Department after research on healing properties of the forests and its revitalizing impact on overall health and well-being.
The forest healing centre draws inspiration from the cultural practice popular in Japan of ‘shinrin-yoku’ or forest bathing. Chief Conservator of Forest (Research), Sanjiv Chaturvedi, said, ”The basic theme is, be silent, go slow, think less and feel more.” It involves many relaxing activities like forest walking, tree-hugging, forest meditation and sky gazing.
The healing centre has been established in a pine-dominated forest as it has been found in various studies that coniferous like Pine trees 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.
Mr. Chaturvedi further stated it has been found 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 for the benefit of good health purpose for local citizens.
Forest meditation is another important activity offered at this healing centre, which is distinct from the traditional mediation system of controlling thoughts or concentrating the awareness on some particular point. This practice is based more on immersing oneself in silence and the ambience of the forest without making any extra effort. Visitors at the forest healing centre are requested to leave behind their phones, cameras and also avoid talking if moving in large groups.