Artificial Intelligence though, has risks and harmful effects. Elon Musk (who you think would know something about A.I. with his electric cars, spaceships and Mars project) has called A.I. our biggest existential threat and that
“With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon.”1I’ve been searching for a more beneficial A.I. and I’ve found it.
A.I. in my world stands for Arboreal Immersion.
Arboreal means relating to trees or resembling the form of a tree, especially its branching patterns.
Arboreal also means inhabiting or frequenting trees. This is the sense with which I mean the term A.I. – Arboreal Immersion.
A.I. means to immerse oneself within trees, in a forest.
You may recognise this idea in its more common term – Forest Bathing.
Forest Bathing is the English term given to the Japanese word Shinrin-yoku, where the practice began in the 1980s.
Of course, the benefits of nature and being in a forest setting have been understood by many cultures for many thousands of years. However, the specific practice and study of Shinrin-yoku is recent.
Forest Bathing (Arboreal Immersion) involves entering a forest slowly and quietly, with no intention to get anywhere. The idea is to simply immerse oneself in the forest and open ones outer senses to the surroundings. What do you notice? What do you see, hear, smell, touch, taste? Arboreal Immersion is not an intellectual practice of identifying species, nor is it a setting in which to display or increase our knowledge.
It is simply a container in which we allow our senses to just – sense.
We also open ourselves to our inner senses. We allow nature to access our inner nature. What do we intuit from the forest? What feelings and emotions are stirred inside us?
Over the course of the past few decades there has been a lot of research carried out with much of that research showing the tremendous benefits of Forest Bathing. Benefits that include:
- assisting in mental health disorders, including ADHD, anxiety, and depression.
- helping to mitigate migraines,
- overcoming obesity, musculoskeletal complaints, and respiratory diseases,
- increased feelings of gratitude and wonder,
- a deeper sense of relaxation (mental and physical).
Forest Bathing helps to settle this sympathetic system so that our parasympathetic nervous system can restore our “natural” state.
Of course, the benefits of Forest Bathing go well beyond the individual benefits. Jacques Yves Cousteau commented that
“People protect what they love.”People who spend time Forest Bathing come to love the forest and nature; and thus come to feel more protective towards nature and forests in particular.
The benefits of forests are well known in terms of the carbon/oxygen cycle. If we love the forest, we will protect the forest, and in doing so will protect the whole planet, and ourselves.
Yes, Arboreal Immersion has many benefits for individuals, communities, natural systems, and the planet as a whole.
I prefer the natural benefits of this form of A.I. rather than the artificial dangers of the other form of A.I.
1. The Washington Post, 24 October 2014.