Also called Shinrin Yoku or Forest Bathing, this gently-structured practice fuses spending slow time in woodland areas, nature exploration, and elements of mindfulness to promote presence, calm, well-being and innate natural healing.
What is it about, and how can it help?
Based on established precepts of Shinrin-Yoku (literally: “forest bathing”), with long history and high repute in Japan, forest therapy has gained mainstream popularity in the West as people acknowledge the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of being in nature.
And science is increasingly quantifying those benefits in tangible outcomes which include: reduction in cortisol (stress hormone) levels, increase in immune function, reduced mood disorder severity, a deeper sense of mental relaxation, and increased feelings of calmness, gratitude, selflessness and wonder.
What does it look like?
A guided forest therapy walk consists of several open-ended exercises (in forest therapy known as “invitations” to emphasize that you may interpret and carry them out as you wish) to help open your senses and your soul, and to engage with the forest in meaningful ways which promote mindfulness.
Forest therapy experiences are not hikes; they are immersive, move slowly, encourage personal presence and exploration. They begin with an orientation, make a gradual transition to trying out several different “invitations” to interact with the forest environment using different senses, and include time for reflection and integration. Forest bathing walks usually conclude with an outdoor tea.
Additional details can be found in experience descriptions.
Who provides it?
Your forest therapy guide, Neil Baldwin, has an appreciation of the natural world gained from direct personal experience and completing the Ontario Master Naturalist program. He combines this with a M.Ed. in Counselling and almost 3 decades of professional experience to create a unique perspective on the role of nature in human development. Read full bio.