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Forest Bathing and Nature Guided Walks

Forest bathing, also known as Shinrin-yoku, is a practice that originated in Japan in the 1980s. It involves spending time in nature, immersing oneself in the atmosphere of a forest, and mindfully engaging with one's surroundings. The practice has gained popularity in recent years and is now recognized as a form of therapy in many countries.

Numerous benefits of forest bathing have been demonstrated through scientific studies, including the reduction of stress and anxiety, improvement of mood, boost in immune system, and decrease in blood pressure and heart rate. Research conducted globally, including in Japan, South Korea, and the United States, has revealed that forest bathing reduces cortisol levels, increases natural killer cell activity in the immune system, and enhances cognitive function. Forest bathing has also been found to improve mood, attention, and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

A typical forest bathing session involves spending two to four hours in a forest or other natural setting, without any electronic devices or distractions. Participants are encouraged to engage with their surroundings mindfully, using all of their senses to fully experience the forest. Activities may include walking, meditation, breathing exercises, and simply sitting quietly and observing the natural environment. The focus is on slowing down and connecting with nature, rather than on achieving any particular goal or outcome.

To give an example of a forest bathing session, try this:

Set an intention: Begin by setting an intention for the session. This might be something like "to reduce stress and anxiety" or "to connect with nature."

Find a spot: Find a spot in the forest where you can sit or stand comfortably. Take a few deep breaths and allow yourself to relax.

Use your senses: Spend some time using your senses to fully engage with the forest. Take in the sights, sounds, smells, and textures around you. Notice how the light filters through the trees, how the leaves rustle in the wind, and how the birds sing.

Mindful walking: Take a slow, mindful walk through the forest, paying attention to each step and the sensations in your body. Take time to stop and appreciate the beauty of the forest along the way.

Meditation: Find a quiet spot and sit or lie down comfortably. Spend some time in meditation, focusing on your breath and allowing yourself to fully relax.

Closing reflection: Take a few moments to reflect on the session and the experience of forest bathing. Consider how you feel now compared to before the session, and any insights or realisations you may have had.

A Nature Guided walk outdoors with ecopsychology methodology does not have to include a forest or wild space and can still provide numerous benefits for mental and physical health. The intention focuses on your intention and an overall aim is to find peace and tranquillity in a busy, fast-paced world.

Walking in nature with an ecopsychology perspective can help individuals to connect with nature, increase their awareness of their impact on the environment, and promote a sense of calm and relaxation, reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. It can also enhance mood and improve cognitive focus and creative functions.

"I’m feeling that I want to touch nature now more than ever and and finding it easier to tune in to the sounds. Loving life, the wildlife is quite loud which allows for a beautiful experience for me to relax and be surrounded be the beautiful noises of the bush around me more than I could before. I feel I can connect quicker than before my session."

Nature-Guided Walk particpant

Ecopsychology methodology emphasises the importance of mindfulness and awareness of one's surroundings. This heightened awareness can lead to a greater appreciation of the beauty of nature and a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of all living things. A Greensong Nature-Guided Walk in a local area doesn’t involve a lot of time, or a trip out of the city. It can promote relaxation, boost mood, cognitive and creative function, increase awareness of natural surroundings and one's impact within the local environment, foster a deeper connection with nature and even offer deep insights and a transformative experience.

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