Mindfulness in nature and the benefits of forest therapy


Nature can be a vital and influential part of our lives. Many of us have stories and memories of pleasurable time spent in nature. In this webinar we will understand the concept of, gain insight into and discover the scientifically proven benefits of being present in nature. It is a simple and inexpensive way to nurture your mind and body. Join certified forest therapy guide Taimi Post on a brief filmed forest walk in the Canadian Shield.

Taimi was the recent recipient of the Trailblazer Award from the Research Institute for Aging in the area of “culture change in aging” for her Mindfulness in Nature program. You can watch the full webinar here. Tami has also made it possible to join her on a virtual forest therapy walk, you can view it here.

Taimi’s story

Post says we each have a life story that brings us to our now. Taimi’s story led her to nature. She grew up on a farm and spent most days outdoors, however as an adult she became too busy to spend quality time in nature and would only be there if her chores were outdoors. Sadly, tragedy struck Taimi’s life when she lost her seven-year-old daughter to a stroke. Taimi needed a route back to happiness, so she returned to nature and found wellness again after a family friend recommended she put her “hands in the dirt and walk in the woods”. This time spent healing and grieving in nature prompted Taimi to become a forest therapy guide.

The origin of and science behind forest therapy
Forest therapy is also known as Shinrin Yoku, forest bathing and nature therapy. It originated in Japan to combat the country’s rising suicide rates and is now available in over 60 countries. The practice of mindfulness in nature is growing in popularity. Countless books, podcasts, articles, news features and documentaries have covered and continue to cover the subject. “This is wonderful news,” says Taimi.

There are over 100 scientific studies highlighting the benefits of forest therapy. The concept behind the practice is to support and improve the wellbeing of the participants. Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson proposed that “since we are nature in ourselves we will be always be drawn to all nature and feel deprived when we are not connected to it.”

The concept

On these walks you are invited to pause and connect to nature in a meaningful way. To try and be present in nature. There are three elements to consider:

  • Seasonal: The environment and weather on that day.
  • Openness: Interpreting the guide’s words and using them accordingly.
  • Intentional: These walks are designed to stir curiosity, stimulate the senses and encourage participants to explore nature with a child-like wonder.

Each guided walk is different and the guide will craft each walk depending on the setting, the weather and the participants. Using all five senses during forest therapy is crucial. Sight, smell, taste, sound and touch. Taimi advises you to maximize your time in nature and savour its beauty by noticing the little things like bird calls, the aroma of a flower, the soothing sight of babbling brook, the feel of a leaf or the taste of wild foraged berry.

The practice

Amos Clifford, the founder of the Association of Forest and Nature Therapy, said “the forest is the therapist and the guide opens the door.” Each walk is slow paced and covering a relatively small distance, usually one kilometre or less. “It’s a full sensory experience of sound, sight, touch, smell and taste,” said Post. “It’s also straightforward, inexpensive, safe and highly effective. Your walk is a series of invitations to engage with the nature around you. There is no right or wrong way. It’s about connecting to the present moment through nature.”

The study-backed benefits
ed stress and anxiety
ce a child-like wonder in nature
Boost immune functioning
Improved concentration and creativity
Increased feelings of comfort and wellbeing
Improvement in mood
Decreased blood pressure
Increase in restful sleep

Virtual versus in-person
Scientific research suggests that most of benefits of forest therapy can be experienced by participating virtually. Any walk Taimi guides you on virtually would be unique due to the location or the season. She takes her phone with her to capture the moments. You can join Taimi on a virtual walk by clicking here. During the virtual forest therapy walk Taimi guides you through four seasons of the wild. You are invited to relax your body and get comfortable while Taimi’s curated photos and videos bring you closer to the beauty and complexity of the natural world.

 Alternatively, you can listen to the full webinar with Taimi by clicking here.

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