Forest Therapy, also known as Shinrin-yoku and Forest Bathing, refers to the practice of spending time in forested areas for the purpose of enhancing health, wellness, and happiness. There is a specific intention to connect with nature for healing by moving through the landscape in ways that cultivate presence, open the senses, and create opportunities for nature communication. There is a long tradition of this in cultures throughout the world. It’s about healing people, healing the forest, and healing the connection between.
The focus of a forest bathing walk is on the journey, not the destination, with guided walks of typically a half mile or less, ranging in duration from one to three hours. Healing interactions require giving generously of our attention. We encourage becoming fully present through an evolving series of invitations given by guides, who have learned to listen deeply to the forest and often co-create these invitations in the moment, working in partnership with the forest and what it offers. Each invitation is crafted to help participants slow down and open our senses, giving the forest access to our emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual being. As we do this we begin to perceive more deeply the nuances of the constant stream of communications rampant in any natural setting. We learn to let the land and its messages penetrate into our minds and hearts more deeply.
Forest Bathing is a monthly, weekly, or daily wellness practice where stress and schedules are left behind and breath, stillness, joy, wonder, ands self are re-discovered. Developing a meaningful relationship with nature occurs over time, and is deepened by returning again and again throughout the natural cycles of the seasons.
There are an infinite number of healing activities that can be incorporated into a walk in a forest or any other natural area. An activity is likely to be healing when it makes room for listening, for quiet and accepting presence, and for inquiry through all eight of the sensory modes we possess.
A Forest Therapy Guide facilitates a connection to the forest environment through a series of invitations that cultivate mindfulness, calm, and wellbeing. Invitations are offered to encourage presence, connect participants to their sensory experiences, and awaken joy and wonder. Guides open the doorways for participants to experience the therapeutic power of the forest.
On Forest Bathing walks, people have a wide range of experiences, some of which they feel are significant, even profound. Guides are trained in the skills and perspectives needed to be supportive witnesses of these experiences.
Forest Therapy is not an extractive process, where we treat forests as a "resource" from which we extract well being for humans. Instead, it is a deeply relational practice, characterized by a sense of loving and tender connection. This connection leads naturally to an ethic of tenderness and reciprocity. Forest therapy is about creating relationships between humans and the more-than-human world, in which the relationship itself becomes a field of healing and a source of joyful well-being.
Besides being a deeply healing practice, Forest Therapy is also an emerging community of friends and activists who are making a global impact. As we learn to love the forests, we become more engaged in working for their well-being. Join us!