There are a number of practices and activities out there that help bring us into the present moment. Some are distractions and get us out of our heads momentarily, while others are a healing balm, soothing our weary souls. Many use the term “mindfulness” to describe the latter. Yet sometimes we yearn to be mindLESS. We need to get out of our heads and into our hearts and bodies. Here’s why forest bathing / nature therapy / forest therapy resonates with me and how it fulfills that yearning.
Forest bathing and/or nature therapy is a bridge. It’s a pathway to connection. To nature. To other humans who share more similarities with you than differences. It’s a pathway back to you. The most authentic version of YOU. The person you are at your core before the messiness of the human experience dulled your shine. Life is hard. We all need something to help us reset, to restore our factory settings. We need to shake the dust off. It accumulates over time if we’re not proactive. For some of us, it has been years since we’ve done something truly restorative for ourselves. If that’s you, you might consider a retreat or a series of forest bathing walks to start, then go into maintenance mode.
There are so many ways to cross the divide. There are multiple paths that lead you home. Not to a location on a map or brick and mortar building, but to that place deep within you. A sense of knowingness that you carry wherever you roam.
If you are still searching for that connection or want to dive deeper, give nature therapy a try. Why? Because we ARE nature. The trees don’t judge. For me and the majority of those I work with, nature soothes the nervous system. I think we inherently know that nature is good for us, but there’s also a lot of research that supports this.
Not everyone feels this way. That’s OK. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Many grew up in cities, don’t see the appeal of a nature walk, have never camped. There is often fear or generational trauma associated with being in the woods. But if you are seeking connection and intrigued by the idea of forest bathing and nature therapy, find a guide in your area. Dip your toe in the water with a remotely guided “virtual forest bathing” experience.
Guides certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy have gone through a rigorous, in-depth training and six-month practicum. We aren’t therapists (nature is the therapist) but we are welcoming, we hold sacred space for our participants, and we offer gentle pathways to connection.
We give you the tools to quiet your mind and awaken your senses. These walks are slow. We seek out easy, peaceful trails and we don’t travel far. The best part: there is no right or wrong way to forest bathe. There are no gold stars, no star students. Just be and breathe.
Grant yourself permission. Give yourself this gift. All you need is an open heart and an open mind. Come and see what medicine the forest has to offer you.
About the Author
Kelly Bruce is a Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide/Trail Consultant and the founder of Natural Wanders. She leads forest bathing and nature therapy walks in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina near Asheville. Each Wednesday, she’ll provide inspiration to help you wander into wellness, naturally. In the meantime, follow along on Instagram and Facebook.
Welcome! I'm Kelly Bruce, a certified nature and forest therapy guide. Join me each week for Wander and Wellness Wednesdays, where I provide inspiration to help you improve your overall wellbeing, naturally!