Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! We normally associate this holiday with the color green – so a perfect way to celebrate is to “go green!” Immerse yourself in nature with forest bathing.
What do you see on a walk in the woods? How do you feel when you are outside in nature? Do you find yourself taking deeper breaths and finding a feeling of calm? Being mindful in nature is that exact experience of being present, awake and peaceful amidst the quiet rhythm of nature.
Perhaps you’ve heard of this forest bathing and laughingly wondered if people are bathing in the woods! The term “forest bathing” is a translation of the Japanese “Shinrin Yoku” and no, there is no actual bathing! Guided forest therapy walks are led by Sharon Lohse, a nurse, horticultural therapist and certified forest therapy guide It is a gentle practice that involves moving very slowly and mindfully through nature, soaking it in with all the senses. It is not hiking in the traditional sense, but rather a “wander”. Studies on forest therapy have demonstrated a wide array of health benefits, especially in the cardiovascular and immune systems, and for stabilizing and improving mood and cognition.
Listening to the birds, looking closely at wild flowers and bees, and taking the time to observe the hidden beauty that is all around us is a skill that can be taught and re-created in your life in order to relieve stress, lower blood pressure and create a safe, calm space. Finding a “sit spot” (like the one experienced on the walk), near your home is a way to practice “awe” in nature.
An entire walk is typically 2-21/2 hours in duration and often covers no more than a quarter mile distance. In that short distance, most people experience contact with nature in a much deeper way that they ever have prior to the walk. Every walk is completed with a tea ceremony with light snacks. The streams and forest at Bucks County Audubon are the perfect environment to re-experience nature at its sensory best. Click herefor upcoming forest bathing events held at the Bucks County Audubon Society, in New Hope PA!
– Written by guest blogger, Certified Forest Therapist, Sharon Lohse (with into by Bucks Audubon staff)