What is Forest Therapy?
Forest therapy is “simply being in nature, connecting with it through our sense of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch” (Dr. Qing Li, Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness). Forest therapy has its roots in shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing”), a practice originating in Japan that emphasizes the measurable health benefits of immersing oneself in nature. Expanding upon this lineage, forest therapy is a heart-centered practice that invites participants to slow down, be more present, and feel more connected to their bodies; each other; and the more-than-human world. Forest therapy is relational and founded on the principle that all beings are interconnected, and cultivating and tending those relationships can reawaken a sense of belonginess and kinship.
What can I expect?
On our forest therapy walk, I will invite you to engage in a clearly defined sequence of guided events that will weave together stillness and movement, solitude and community. While this sequence of invitations is intentional and serves to guide participants through a series of experiences that build on one another, everything on a forest therapy walk is truly invitational and open for adaptation and modification—there is no “right” way to engage!
Why go with a guide?
While solo adventures in nature can be very therapeutic, being guided on a forest therapy walk is a different experience with numerous benefits. Forest therapy guides have undergone an intensive learning process, are trained in Wilderness First Aid, and take care of the “thinking” (planning, preparing, facilitating) so you can most fully experience the “being.” Having a guide who holds space for and bears witness to your journey on a forest therapy walk can also be a profoundly therapeutic experience.
What is forest therapy not?
Forest therapy is therapeutic, and it is not psychotherapy. In forest therapy, the Forest is the therapist—the guide holds space and offers invitations that open doors to opportunity for participants to find the healing they need from the Forest itself. There are no prescribed outcomes—each participant will have a unique experience depending on what they need and what they’re bringing with them in heart, mind, body, and spirit.
Forest therapy is not a naturalist walk. In forest therapy, the focus is not on gathering facts about nature—the focus is on being in and with nature using our senses, including our heart sense.
Forest therapy is not hiking or “exercise”—in forest therapy, the destination is “here” rather than “there.” Forest therapy walks that I guide tend to be less than a mile in length, typically.
Health Benefits of Forest Therapy
Forest therapy can:
Enhance immune system functioning
Reduce stress and blood pressure
Contribute to an overall sense of well-being
Improve concentration and memory
For more information on the scientific evidence that supports the health benefits of forest bathing, please visit https://www.natureandforesttherapy.earth/about/the-science.
Upcoming Forest Therapy Walks
(for participants ages 18 and older)
When: Sunday, 12/31/2023, 10 AM - 12 PM
Where: Fred G. Bond Metro Park, 801 High House Rd, Cary, NC 27513 (ancestral land of the Tuscarora Nation, the Lumbee Tribe, and the Catawba Nation)
Come celebrate the transition into a new year by spending time in the quietude of the Forest in winter.
This event is limited to five participants, and registration is first come, first served. If you would like to attend, please email me at email@example.com to inquire about availability and payment information. Receipt of payment will confirm your registration.
Please also note that I am unable to offer a refund if you cancel your registration with less than 24 hours’ notice.