What happens when you spend time in nature?
You get a massive boost to your immune system. Inflammation is reduced. Mood and concentration is improved. Blood pressure is lowered
Forest Therapy. Forest Bathing. There are many names for the medicine of being in the forest. Forest Therapy or Forest Bathing is the practice of spending time in forested and nature areas for the purpose of enhancing health, wellness, and happiness.
The Forest is the therapist. The Guide Opens the Doors.
Forest Therapy is a research-based framework for supporting healing and wellness through immersion in forests and other natural environments. It is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, which translates to “forest bathing.” The practice follows the general principle that it is beneficial to spend time bathing in the atmosphere of the forest.
Forest Bathing is accessible to everyone.
I have always been drawn to wilderness, forests, mountains and rivers that are in wilderness. Ive been grateful to have the physical capacity to be able to trek far and high while developing the skill of being safe solo in higher mountains that are remote and rugged.
The part of me that seeks solitude and pause in places like that was the strongest.
I’ve mostly done this alone as simply being with the wilderness and connecting to the other than human world has been what draws me. That has been my community. The company I seek has been with my partner, Christopher, or the dogs I live with or a few friends or family members. I have never thought to join a group for walking or hiking or being in wilderness
Then, things changed for me…
After a long period of isolation due to medical and accident recovery, I decided to seek out a group of people and join them in the mountains. I did it as a way to re-integrate socially and help myself build my capacity again.
My long term period of recovery that I mentioned above-at that point was more than 4 years at that point. Now it is a total of about 8 years as I recently healed up from my final (and major!) surgery related to all that.
Within that group there was community, connection and exploration of trails and more. Everyone was supportive of each other, shared in encouragement and laughed and talked a lot.
But I noticed that there was constant checking of data while we walked along. Then, when we paused to rest most everyone was checking phones, GPS, fit bits and other devices that measure what they are doing.
Even with the comradeship, encouragement and support, there was a strong focus on getting there. And almost a apologetic guilt at being slow or the last person to get to the spot where we regrouped. I noticed that for some people that created a not really being part of where we were, not noticing the path we tread on or pausing to truly experience and connect with the trees and forest and earth.
This approach to walking in wilderness is not less or more but I felt something was missing. And it existed simply because that was what most of the women had been taught—to push, to get to the goal, that the trail was a vehicle for fitness in nature.
But even with all the devices and data, the group loved hiking together, cared for each other and appreciated being out on the trail.
My thoughts led to how can we and how can I help create a pause or a deeper connection with nature while supporting hiking and being in the wilderness this way— what could I offer or add without making it seem like how we are out on the trails and walking with mountains seem not good enough or not okay?
Its not either or,
this or that or
one way is right and the other way is not.
All approaches work together—and we can let that apologetic guilt for being slow or last go, we can look at the all those devices and goals while still connecting with nature and truly seeing the forest. And we can pause and just be there knowing that how we are moving along is okay enough
By simply bringing in more noticing, more pause, more awareness of the other than human realm we are in. And we can do this through Forest Bathing or Nature and Forest Therapy.
Forest Bathing looks beyond,
to what happens when people remember that we are a part of nature,
not separate from it
In Forest Therapy, there is a sequence of guided events that provides structure to the experience while embracing the many opportunities for creativity and serendipity offered by the forest and your inspiration and that of your guide. Forest Therapy is a practice. It is open-ended; there is no prescription for what a person “should” experience or what benefits they “should” receive.
When Forest Bathing, you are guided into an inner state of relaxation, wellness, and sensory restoration. You participate in a series of sensory orientated and present moment-focused activities invitations that create connection and communication with nature.
Forest Bathing, an Eco-therapeutic practice, can be integrated into any outdoor experience, from simply walking, sitting to outdoor adventures. Each practices in a way that works for them while being led by their forest bathing guide.
Forest Bathing with Heather
I am a certified Forest Therapy Guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and offer uniquely crafted Forest Bathing sessions. To support you in self-guided practice, I created guided forest bathing programs that you can use anywhere.
In addition, I created Waking up to Wild: Forest Bathing Hiking Explorations which involve 2 to 4 hours of walking in wilderness areas through the lens of Forest Therapy. These are clearly differentiated from regular forest bathing sessions.
With the Forest Bathing hiking, I have re-adapted Nature and Forest Therapy principles into Guided Hiking Excursions, where we walk with wellness!
May The Forest Be With You,
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