Stressed? Come heal in the lap of woods at Devbhoomi

Express News Service
DEHRADUN:  Clean air, lush green surroundings, pleasant smell of vegetation and blue skies. That’s not some movie shot, but the first Forest Healing Centre of India which was opened for public on Sunday. It is in Kalika of Ranikhet in Almora district of Uttarakhand.

It was inaugurated by Joginder Bisht, a conservationist and environmentalist, who is also a recipient of the Indira Priyadarshini Vriksha Mitra Award. “Inauguration of this centre is in a way going back to our traditional way of life. We as a civilization have been living in sync with nature. This centre reminds us of that while teaching us. Unique experiences of this centre will pave the way for further sensitivity and awareness on ecology and environment,” he said.

Spread over 13 acres, this centre draws inspiration from the Japanese concept of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) and ancient Indian traditions. It has been developed by the research wing of Uttarakhand forest department after conducting studies on healing properties of the forests and its revitalising impact on health and well- being. Activities include forest walks, tree hugging, forest meditation and sky gazing.

“In countries like Iceland, the forest department has been making efforts to do this for the benefit of locals. This healing centre has been established in a pine-rich forest as it has been found in studies that coniferous trees emit certain oil compounds to safeguard themselves from microbes and pathogens called phytoncides,” said Sanjiv Chaturvedi, chief conservator of forest (research).

These compounds help multiply natural killer cells in the blood, which help in fighting infections and cancerous growths, enhance overall immunity, other than having a positive impact on decreasing levels of stress hormones. Forest meditation is an extension of the traditional meditation system of controlling thoughts or concentrating on some particular point. Interspersed with forest walks, its impact is enhanced. Adding to all this is sky gazing which involves looking at the vast canopy above and the ever changing sky.