What is Forest Therapy

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:

  1. Sensory immersion 
  2. Group reflection 
  3. Nature connection
  4. Enjoyment
  5. Slow paced
  6. Peace and quiet
  7. Variety 

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

Read more about the 7 elements in the blog

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! 

Testimonial - "Committing to a course allows you to revisit your chosen site and receive something new each month, while also deepening your bond with the group created through the group experience. A calming and connecting experience that I look forward to each month." - Oonagh, Winchester. 

A typical session

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. 

Read more about nature connection

Testimonial - "I struggle to relax most days but the heightened senses and feelings of calm after the session lasted several days. The three hours flew by." - Lisa, Andover. 

The history 

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.

Read more about the benefits

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.  

Testimonial - "You helped us so much! V stopped procrastinating and took action on two things she's been avoiding for weeks. I had a v good sleep without night sweats - never happens! We will be in touch for the next episode soon!" - Evelyn, Basingstoke. 

Happy People