Would you like to see the extraordinary in the ordinary? To give yourself some space to slow down and reach a deeply relaxed state of 'least excitation'? And learn some everyday mindfulness techniques you can reuse when out on your own walk?
Forest Therapy is an evidence-based, transformative practice that connects people to natural environments using gentle sensory-based 'invitations' (optional mindfulness for beginners and guided meditation exercises). I think of Forest Therapy as a preventative medicine, rather than a treatment.
There are 7 key elements to the practice:
It is when all these factors are present within the invitations that mental clarity and 'mind over mood' is achieved, with the forest as the therapist, and the guide as the facilitator.
Forest Therapy is not something you do on a dog walk, when you're chatting with friends as you walk or a nature identification exercise. It is sometimes called Forest Bathing but no swimming is required!
You'll begin your experience with a brief explanation of the history and science, and then you'll be guided through a series of group and individual mindfulness experiences. You will be able to turn off your worrying and wandering mind and connect with your senses, your emotions and your breath. It's not your average forest walk; it's very, very slow, and time is passed engaging senses in intentional exercises.
Much of the time is spent feeling deeply calm and in silence, although there is a chance for group reflection after each activity. There will definitely be an opportunity to just sit with a tree. Finally, you'll close the session with a Japanese tea ceremony and snacks.
Spending time mindfully immersed in magnificent ancient woodland can lead to emotional and mind healing and a host of other benefits, which are proven to last for 2-4 weeks.
The practice of Forest Therapy originated in Japan 40 years ago, where it's known as Shinrin-Yoku ("bathing your senses in the atmosphere of the forest"). Japan is the most densely populated country on earth, with correspondingly high stress levels. It's also one of the most heavily forested countries. In the 1980s the Japanese government carried out extensive scientific research, which found that a two-hour Forest Therapy session could reduce high blood pressure, lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and improve concentration and memory.
And their findings went further; they found that the essential oils released by trees boost the immune system, so recovery time from surgery or illness is reduced. When Shinrin-Yoku was introduced to the health system, participants reported feeling better and sleeping longer. Furthermore, they enjoyed these effects for weeks following an experience. Forest Therapy is now practised by more than 5 million Japanese people, extends across the whole of Asia, and is growing in popularity in Europe, Canada and the US.
The results of my trial Forest Therapy walks align with these findings. They also demonstrate a considerable reduction in anxiety and increase in energy levels.
"It was great to have some time to breathe.... ground.... relax.... and appreciate the beauty that’s around us".Hayley, Andover
"A chance to relax and get away from it all by being guided to focus on nature and the 'simple things'".Kate, Overton
"The session was very calming and I believe Forest Bathing allowed me to slow right down and clear my mind in a way that I would/could never do on my own".Louise, Basingstoke
"Forest Bathing is just an amazing healing experience!".Nicla, Reading
"The course of monthly sessions allowed me to become increasingly open and take the experience to a deeper level each time. The benefits radiate through my mind and body, long after the session iteself has finished".Annie, Upham
"Committing to a 3 month series of forest bathing sessions allows you to revisit your chosen site and receive something new each time. I also loved connecting with the group through our shared experience over a number of weeks/months".Oonagh, Winchester
"The guided auditory meditations provided symptom relief that I hadn’t felt in over a year!
The heightened sensory experience in a relaxed calm environment of the forest, with a professional, kind, welcoming instructor who adapted the session to enable me to participate with a hidden disability, was fantastic"Shelly, Winchester
"You helped us so much - V went to see you know who and made the vital work call, both things she has been putting off for weeks! I have also had a v good night’s sleep! Must be six months since that has happened with no night sweats.
We will be in touch for the next episode soon!”.ES, Basingstoke
"I did a three hour session with Sonya, it is genuinely the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Value for money, I can highly recommend."George, Winchester
"Enjoyed my Forest Therapy experience with Adore Your Outdoors. To stop and savour nature, slow down and disconnect for a couple of hours was very liberating. Highly recommend!"Tilly, Birmingham
“After the first meditation it was as though my eye balls had been washed!”.Jon, Southampton.