We ThorpeWoodians are delighted to add Forest Therapy to our programs! Forest Therapy is a mindful walk in nature led by a certified forest therapy guide. Through a sensory awakening meditation and guided forest invitations, participants are called to engage deeply with the forest, tune into their senses, and become fully present.
Forest therapy comes from the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku ( 森林浴 ), which translates to forest bathing. Shinrin-yoku started in Japan in the 1980s to address the increasing levels of burnout and the negative health effects of urbanization and indoor tech-based jobs. The movement spread across the world and is becoming increasingly popular here in the U.S.
Scientific research done in Japan and around the world discovered there are quite a few health benefits to this practice. They include reduced stress, heart rate, and blood pressure, and improved concentration, creativity, and mood. Although simply slowing down and coming into the present moment is partly responsible for the health benefits, the simple presence of the trees also plays an important role. Trees have a component of their immune system called phytoncides, which are aromatic oils that defend against pests and pathogens. When you smell an evergreen tree, you are smelling its phytoncides. When we inhale these phytoncides, our immune system gets a boost in the form of increased natural killer cells, our first line of defense against stressed cells.
For more information on the health benefits of forest therapy, check out these research studies:
What to Expect:
A traditional two-hour-long forest therapy walk consists of a sensory awakening meditation, guided invitations, and tea. All of these are designed to have participants slow down, open their senses, and relax into the present moment. The session begins with the sensory awakening meditation in which participants are invited to ease into the forest and present moment. The bulk of the walk is occupied by a series of nature-connection invitations, which guide participants in their sensory experiences of the woods. After each invitation, participants are welcome to share their observations and experiences. If an invitation doesn’t resonate, that’s ok. Participants are free to do whatever sits well with them – because it is their time—time to relax, enjoy, and simply be. At the conclusion of each walk, participants join together for tea. During this time, we wrap up our experience together and ease ourselves back out of the forest.
Walks shorter than two hours may not include tea, but the spirit of the final component will still be brought to the walk.
Next Steps: If forest therapy sounds like a good fit for you or your group, please reach out to ThorpeWood’s program director (and certified forest therapy guide!), Katie, at [email protected] to organize a walk.