Forest Therapy is a gentle practice of mindful awareness and connection to nature that promotes wellness, and is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku or “Forest Bathing”. We will slow down, tune in to our senses and experience the restorative effects of nature while reconnecting with ourselves and each other.
It is not exercise and is not meant to be strenuous. The trail is usually fairly flat but can also be a slightly uneven terrain. A leisurely walk of a little over a kilometer with stops along the way where we will gather and sit.
This group is being run by Melissa Bollinger Seiling, MSW, RSW who is a Social Worker at Welland McMaster Family Health Team and a certified Forest Therapy Guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT) with wilderness first aid training.
What is it?
A forest therapy walk is a slow, mindful way of being in nature. It will be a time to have your cell phones off. Yes, even the camera function! (The facilitator will have a cell phone on in case of emergencies.) This is a rare chance to experience the stress-reducing effects of being fully unplugged for a few hours. It is also a time for silence while being in a group. Silence is a rare gift to offer each other when we are often bombarded with noise and chatting. This is not at all a group therapy experience, but there will be short times of optional sharing from time to time during the walk. Mostly, it is a time for quiet, listening to the forest and “bathing” in our senses.
How does it help?
Many studies have shown that spending time in natural settings has Important health and wellness benefits, such as:
~Improves physical health
~Lowers blood pressure
~Strengthens the immune system
~Improves mental health, reduces depression and anxiety, decreases stress
~Reduces feelings of anger and aggression
~Improves concentration and memory function