A dear friend invited me to try Forest Therapy at Little Cat Conservation Area. What a lovely experience!
According to their website, www.natureandforesttherapy.org,
“Forest Therapy is a research-based framework for supporting healing and wellness through immersion in forests and other natural environments. Forest Therapy is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, which translates to “forest bathing.” Studies have demonstrated a wide array of health benefits, especially in the cardiovascular and immune systems, and for stabilizing and improving mood and cognition. We build on those benefits and look beyond, to what happens when people remember that we are a part of nature, not separate from it, and are related to all other beings in fundamental ways.
“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. Instead, it is a practice of developing a deepening relationship of reciprocity, in which the forest and the practitioner find a way to work together that supports the wholeness and wellness of each.”
The tagline is “The Forest is the therapist. The Guide opens the door.”
We met at the Conservation Area main building, where our guide, Stana Luxford-Oddie, met us and facilitated introductions. From there, our small troupe headed back into the Conservation Area. We did a variety of mindfulness and sharing exercises: we focused on experiencing nature through all our senses, we walked slowly and quietly noticing plants and flowers, we got to find a spot to sit and be (either eyes closed or open). After each exercise we had the option of sharing, or not. Stana skillfully reminding us that everything – each exercise or share – is an invitation.
After the 2-hour experience, I got back to my car feeling so sattvic – a yogic term that describes a sense of calm, harmony, and deep connection. My next stop was Costco, and the calm extended throughout that whole shopping endeavor and into the rest of the evening. Although I have tools of my own to be mindful in any environment (including nature) it was so lovely to be guided and supported by a skillful and trained facilitator so I could really let myself be in the experience and healing presence of nature.
If you haven’t tried Forest Therapy, it is absolutely worth taking the time for the experience. Here’s the link to the program I enjoyed with Stana – https://crca.ca/education/foresttherapy/
If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think. Please leave a comment below.
Yours in health,