Forest & Nature Therapy walks with Kelly Kiss & Peter Hehl, ANFT Certified Forest Therapy Guides. Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) on Salt Spring Island, the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island, BC.
What is Forest Therapy or Forest Bathing?
Forest therapy is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, or forest bathing. Shinrin-Yoku means to “bathe in the atmosphere of the forest” and is a is a term that was originally used by the Japanese government in the 1980”s, "to describe the practice of spending time in the woods to soak up its health benefits”. The Japanese have thoroughly researched and discovered many positive health benefits of spending time in nature. Research shows that if practiced regularly, forest “bathing” is significantly beneficial for reducing stress, strengthening the immune system, inspiring creativity, and enhancing a sense of well-being. It can improve your health, wellness and happiness!
Spending quiet, thoughtful time in the forest feels in many ways, like coming home to a peaceful place inside your heart. The practice of Forest Bathing is a mindful “immersion” into the space of trees, plants and the beings of the forest. It's not about getting to a place, rather it's about slowing down, and using your senses to mindfully notice and connect with the natural world, and yourself.
Why Walk with a Trained Forest Therapy Guide? Everyone can walk in nature by themselves, however, just as many people choose to participate in a yoga or meditation class with a certified instructor, there are many benefits to doing forest bathing with a trained guide. Kelly and Peter completed their certification through theAssociation of Nature & Forest Therapy Guides and Programs (ANFT).
When walking with a certified forest therapy guide, it helps you to slow down and be in the the present moment, something that many people find challenging on their own. The practice of forest therapy also has an intentional flow and sequence that helps to facilitate the quietening and softening of the mind, and deepening of connection with the natural world. During a guided walk, we will offer you a series of “invitations” to help you to do this. You are then invited to do what feels comfortable to you. Guides merely hold the space for the deepening and connection to happen.
As trained forest therapy guides we customize the invitations to each trail and group, offering a new and inspiring experience for every walk at various locations. Guides also have a familiarity with the trails and select locations based on qualities that lend themselves well to the practice of forest bathing. We also are trained to provide a safe and non-judgemental space for people to share and connect with one another, as well as with the natural world. Also in the event that anyone were to hurt themselves, we have wilderness first aid through Red Cross. Therefore, walking with a guide, takes the planning and any safety concerns, off of your shoulders.
What Will I Experience on a Forest Bathing Walk? Forest bathing walks are not a naturalist walk or a hike. There is no plant or animal identification, and no agenda. Walks move slowly over a gentle landscape and are usually 1 km or less in length. For this reason the practice of forest therapy is accessible to people of all fitness levels, ages and abilities. Walks are typically between two and three hours in length. Kelly and Peter will offer you a series of invitations to open-up your senses and become deeply immersed in your surroundings. Invitations are a method that guides use to help participants find their connection with the natural world and the healing powers of the forest. Forest therapy guides help participants to slow down, become more mindful and assist in creating a deeper connection with self, others, and nature beings. Your experience will always be personal to you, and invitations are just suggestions to help you interact with the forest in a unique way. All guided forest therapy walks are then concluded with a tea ceremony, which features tea made with local plants, and healthy snacks. This final offering further strengthens our sense of community and connection.
We hope that you will join us for a gentle excursion into the forest. To see upcoming scheduled walks, please see walks page, or to schedule a one-on-one, family, couple, or private group walks, please contact us.
Wander the woods…and find yourself along the way. Come walk with us...
Forest Therapy Walk, Comox, BC, March 2019.
Forest bathing "is not exercise, or hiking, or jogging. It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our sense of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Indoors we tend to use only two senses, our eyes and our ears. Outside is where we can smell the flowers, taste the fresh air, look at the changing colours of the trees, hear the birds singing and feel the breeze on our skin. And when we open up our senses, we begin to connect with the natural world." ~Dr. Qing Li, The Japanese Art and Science of Shinrin-Yoku: Forest Bathing, how trees can help you find health and happiness.
"Forest bathing opens the doors of our senses and fully engages us with the healing powers of nature." ― M. Amos Clifford, founder ANFT
salt spring island
What participants Are Saying
"The experience was unbelievably rich and deep. I easily dropped deeply into presence and maintained that state throughout. So life affirming. The guide Kelly was so kind and steady and fully embodied the love and appreciation of nature and our connectedness." November 2018, Salt Spring, BC
"If you wish to know the divine, feel the wind on your face and the warm sun on your hand." Buddha