Nature & Forest Therapy
If you haven’t heard of Nature & Forest Therapy before, you might be wondering what to expect on a guided walk and what this practice is about.
A nature/forest therapy walk is a slow-paced meditative exploration in nature. You will be guided through a sequence of "invitations" to help you open up your senses, slow down, and connect to nature.
Nature & Forest Therapy is an established and widely researched wellness practice. It provides physical, emotional, psychological, relational, and spiritual benefits. By inhaling phytoncide-rich forest air, we get a boost to our immune systems. By using our senses and slowing down, we regulate our nervous systems. As a result, stress hormone levels go down. By being in the moment, we connect to our memories, rediscover our creativity, and become kinder to ourselves and others.
The roots of this practice come from shinrin-yoku, which means “forest bathing” in Japanese. Shinrin-yoku originated in Japan in the 1980's. There are over ten forest therapy bases in Japan. Forest Research Institute at Chiba University conducts studies on the benefits of this practice. And The International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine supports and promotes medical research in this field of science.
Is it a hike? – No, distance on a guided walk is measured by steps, not miles. Participants would not walk a lot or very far. In fact, participants can stay in one place for the duration of the walk if they wish to do so.
Who can participate? – Anyone. Really! Nature welcomes everyone.
How long is the walk? – A guided walk usually lasts about 1.5-2 hours. It can be shorter or longer depending on weather conditions and the needs of participants.
What should I bring? – No special equipment is needed. It's important though to dress for the weather and to wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
Is it like a meditation outdoors? – Yes, and much more! It’s about awakening the senses, slowing down, quieting the mind, and exploring the surroundings on your own terms. It’s a ceremony and an experience. The walk has a certain structure: participants are offered "invitations" to explore the land with their senses. Each invitation is followed by a round of sharing and witnessing each other.
So what does a Nature & Forest Therapy Guide do?
As a certified nature & forest therapy guide, I received specialized training to guide participants through a well-designed sequence of explorations in order to awaken the senses and connect to nature.
My main job as a guide is to maintain a no-agenda space for participants:
There’s no need to watch the time. I'll be there to do that for you.
There’s nothing to accomplish, nothing to achieve. I'll remind you that everything is invitational. You'll be exploring nature on your own terms.
There’s “here and now”. As a guide, I work in partnership with the Forest to harness the magic of the present moment and to facilitate sensory interactions with nature. By the way, did you know that humans have over 20 different senses? On a regular day indoors, we mostly use only sight and hearing.
There’s you, in nature. I'll gently direct you to explore nature through your senses, reawaken your imagination, and connect to the nature outside and within.
There's mindfulness and embodiment. As a guide, I'll hold space for experiences to happen, facilitate open sharing and receptive listening, as well as safe and mindful exploration.
The forest is the therapist, the guide opens the doors!
Expect to be accepted just as you are. Nature has your back. Nature doesn’t judge or evaluate. Nature won’t classify you into a race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, religion... Nature doesn’t discriminate based on language or accent, or based on the way you dress or walk. It embraces the whole of who you are.
Contact me for customized walks: friend get-togethers, birthday walks, full moon and new moon walks, and more.