How strenuous is Nature and Forest Therapy?
The first thing to say is that it is not a hike. It is a slow meditative, mindful walk in nature designed to open up your senses to the natural environment and re-connect with both yourself and the more than human world. As it is a slow walk, it is best to ensure you have warm enough clothes depending on the weather. Also, you may want to bring a plastic sheet with you or bin liner so you can sit on the ground, although I will have sheets for you to use. A walk would take between an hour and up to three hours depending on the size of the group and the circumstances of the event.
It starts with an introduction where we introduce ourselves and I explain what we will do. Through a series of invitations, you are invited to notice what your senses are connecting with as we slowly walk through the forest or along the beach or whatever natural environment we are in. They are purely invitations, and you are not obliged to do them. You can choose to engage with the environment in your own way. The overarching principle is that the forest is the therapist, the guide opens the door. After each invitation, we gather together to share what we are experiencing and listen to each other. You can share whatever you want which could mean saying nothing, which is absolutely fine.
Pleasures of Presence
After the introduction, we have a series of invitations called Pleasures of Presence. This is a relaxing meditation designed to open all your respective senses to the environment you are in. What are you hearing, what are you smelling, what are you feeling? We then proceed with our slow walk through the forest, wood, or beach with a heightened sense of awareness and wonder. I call this What’s in Motion. Thereafter, I will offer more invitations to engage with what is around you in a safe, supportive yet playful way.
What is important is that you feel comfortable at all times and make choices for yourself about what you decide to do and the experience that you have. It is OK to just enjoy the experience of slowing down in a restful, rejuvenating environment. However, by letting yourself reconnect with the more than human world, it can provide some profound and healing experiences.
After the Walk
The walk then ends with some tea, usually prepared with something from the environment we are in. This is an opportunity to reflect on the walk, how you are feeling, what it gave to you and what you are going to take away from the experience.
This is a succinct summary of the Nature and Forest Therapy session and if it appeals to you, then feel free to contact me to discuss further, or join me on my next organised walk.