The natural world offers many forms of respite and restoration. Forest therapy is a research-based framework for supporting healing and wellness through immersion in forests and other natural environments. In Japan it is called “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.
In general terms, forest bathing is a practice of making contact with nature and “taking in the atmosphere” of the forest.
All are invited to join Forest Therapy Guide Susan Bickford at Hidden Valley Nature Center in Jefferson from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 9. Bickford will guide participants through several invitations to awaken the senses and slow down, slower than one is used to going. The pace will allow people to notice what is in motion along the trail; time may be spent sitting with a certain tree for a bit. Attendees will share observations in council. In all, the group won’t walk very far, maybe a mile in the three hours of the workshop. Forest bathing is a gentle restorative and meditative way of being in nature. In the end the group will share a foraged tea together.
The workshop is $20 for Midcoast Conservancy members and $25 for others. To register, go to midcoastconservancy.org/events/forest-bathing-workshop.
Bickford, a lifetime Maine resident, received her forest therapy guide certification from the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy and has been guiding walks since 2017. Bickford has been combining forest therapy and art for years crafting collaborative events in nature. More examples of her work can be viewed at susanbickfordinteractive.com and stillnesskitchen.com. To learn more, go to midcoastmaineforesttherapy.com.