Medicine. Connection. Re-connection. Bodyfulness. Play. Whatever you and the land create.
Forest therapy is inspired by the Japanese practice of forest bathing, a response by the Japanese medical community to rising stress-related illnesses in the 1980s. When we go to the woods, our blood pressure goes down, our heart rates steady, and we benefit from immune-boosting aerosols from trees.
I like to think of forest therapy spiritually and, as the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides teaches, as a relationship. Humanity is utterly dependent on the more-than-human world for not only for survival but for the richness of living, the wealth that is both being born and dying.
What happens during forest therapy?
Over a slow walk (or even sitting inside), I will offer you a series of invitations to bring our full senses present in the moment. The process does not predetermine any outcomes for you, but trusts that "the forest is the therapist, the guide opens the doors." This article offers an excellent accounting. I also share some reflections on it and spiritual direction here. And my favorite books on forest therapy are here.
Forest therapy is one means for reconnecting, or re-wilding, human creatures. It is a space of intention, wonder, and snacks that supports us in learning to "speak tree" once more. At a time we have never needed it more.
On whose land?
I live and guide within the Kaskaskia, Sangamon, Vermillion, and Wabash, and Embarass watersheds (Clark Clark and Coles County, Illinois). These were once under the stewardship of the Illinois, Peankashaw, Wea, Miami, Mascoutin, Odawa, Sauk, Mesquaki, Kickapoo, Ojibwe, Chickasaw and Potawatomi people. As a consequence of colonization, they are now under the care of local and regional municipalities and non-profits - and those of us who financially support them.
Interested in a private forest therapy walk or offering one through your institution?