Forest therapy is experienced by intentionally slowing down in nature using our senses as a doorway to connect. It is an opportunity to be in the present moment, to recognize the many ways we are connected to and are part of the natural world. Forest Therapy is facilitated by a guide who holds space and offers invitations to interact with nature. Invitations are suggestions that are open to interpretation and implemented in many ways. Slowing down, taking time to notice, wander, and discover the experience of connecting with nature is a gift to yourself that has ripple effects. Benefits of slowing down in nature include a wide range of physical, emotional, and mental health benefits.
Forest therapy guides have received training from the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT). There are several guides in Pennsylvania. Guides provide a framework and space so that participants can explore, connect, and discover. Guides keep track of the time so participants can loose track of time and be fully present. Nature and forest therapy is rooted in Jungian psychology, Ecopsychology, and Shinrin yoku. The Japanize phrase "Shinrin yoku" translates to English as "forest bathing" and means to take in the forest atmosphere with all of ones senses. This was first defined in 1982 by Akiyama Tomohide, director of the Japan Forestry Agency. The term "forest therapy" was first used in 2003 by Miyazaki Yoshifumi, who studied the physiological and psychological effects of forest immersion experiences. Forest therapy, as facilitated by an ANFT guide, is more than a walk in the woods, it is the intentional slowing down in nature to increase well-being and connection with oneself and the natural world.
Nature and Forest Therapy is an opportunity to connect with nature, with oneself, and others. Like roots grounded to bring nourishment to trees, a pause in nature brings grounding through discovery, beauty, and wonder that nourishes our connection to life.
"Forest Therapy is a research-based framework for supporting healing and wellness through immersion in forests and other natural environments. Forest Therapy is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, which translates to “forest bathing.” Studies have demonstrated a wide array of health benefits, especially in the cardiovascular and immune systems, and for stabilizing and improving mood and cognition. We build on those benefits and look beyond, to what happens when people remember that we are a part of nature, not separate from it, and are related to all other beings in fundamental ways." https://www.natureandforesttherapy.earth/about/the-practice-of-forest-therapy
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