Forest Therapy is about relaxing, unplugging and deepening our relationship with nature and each other. Unlike outdoor recreation such as hiking, this is a practice of slowing down as opposed to one of exertion. These walks will cover no more than 1-2 miles over the course of three hours. Unlike a nature walk, this is a practice of simply noticing and does not require any naturalist training or outdoor experience. The goal is to notice, wander, wonder, inquire, rest and reciprocate.
As a Forest Therapy Guide, I hold space and open the door for whatever comes up. I facilitate a carefully structured offering of gentle prompts to support moving out of our thinking brain and into our body through our senses. When done over time, this practice can broaden our awarenesses and support health and healing for not only humans but also for the trees, waters, and all the beings of the natural world also known as the more-then-human world. Forest Therapy is about connecting or reconnecting with nature. It is also about connecting or reconnecting with ourselves and others.
Forest Therapy is part of a global effort to tend to the stressful conditions of living in modern industrialized civilization. It is inspired by Shinrin-Yoku, a term coined in Japan in the 1980’s where much infrastructure has been created around designated healing forests. Shinrin-Yoku translates to Forest Bathing and is a prominent feature of preventative medicine and healing in Japan. A plethora of studies have been done demonstrating how nature is powerful medicine in treating stress-related illnesses. Some trees have been shown to emit cancer-fighting medicinal chemicals that can be absorbed by simply spending time relaxing near them. There is scientific evidence of a variety of health benefits such as:
- reduced stress
- lowered cortisol levels
- reduced blood pressure
- increased natural killer disease-fighting cells (NK cells)
- increased energy
- improved sleep and mood.
You can find a list of these research studies HERE.
Nature and land connection is an ancient practice. The best way to discover whats possible with Forest Therapy is to experience it.