Forest & Nature Therapy walks with Kelly Kiss, ANFT Certified Forest Therapy Guide. Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) on Salt Spring Island, the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island, BC.
About Forest & Nature Therapy
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 has been guiding for four years now, and completed her certification through theAssociation of Nature & Forest Therapy Guides and Programs (ANFT). Her training was done in person in California at the birth place of ANFT, followed by a six-month practicum.
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, I will offer you a series of “invitations” to help you to connect with your senses and the natural world. You are then invited to do what feels comfortable to you. Guides merely hold the space for the deepening and connection to happen. The forest is the therapist and we are the guide.
As a trained forest therapy guide I 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 are also 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, I have a twenty hour Wilderness & Remote First Aid & CPR Level C Trainingfirst aid training 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 half and three hours in length. Kelly 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.
I hope that you will join me 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 see private walk page.
Wander the woods…and find yourself along the way. Come walk with me...
Gardens at HCP (Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, Victoria, BC June 2021
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
Keep up-to-date on upcoming forest bathing walks on Salt Spring Island & Vancouver Island!
"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."
"Find the time! It is worth the investment to understand how you can benefit from listening and smelling the forest!"
"Necessary for love and interconnection with Gaia. Thank you. Was held with great respect. Really glad to be here."
"An exploration and insight into, nature but also of myself. Gratitude." "I think everyone would benefit to experience the calming effect of a therapy forest walk."