Forest Therapy Institute Brochure Link to training schedule and information. Watch...
Watch the Richmond Channel 8 News Story: play button over the pink blanket Forest Therapy video
Welcome to the Forest Therapy Institute of Virginia
– May the Forest be with you.
Our mission is to promote Forest Therapy
by offering guided experiences for individuals & groups,
and training for those interested in becoming Forest Guides.
We also want to identify and promote natural areas throughout the region as Forest Therapy locations.
Forest Therapy is a re-immersion in the sensorium of the healthy forest. Direct sensory attention to the healthy natural forest activates and strengthens our nervous system’s parasympathetic relaxation response. This makes it a powerful natural antidote to the ongoing stress of our fast paced civilized lives.
Also known as Forest Bathing, from the Japanese “Shinrin Yoku,” meaning “bathing in the atmosphere of the forest” it has been most developed in Japan where research and national health policies promote its beneficial effects on our neurophysiology. They have many areas that are designated for Forest Bathing and it is part of the national past time. It can be practiced in other landscapes and natural settings, but an older natural forest is especially potent in what has been dubbed Vitamin N.
Vitamin N is what the body naturally produces when it is exposed to and paying attention to the radiant sea of electromagnetic, chemical, sound and tactile sensations of nature that we evolved out of.
Modern humanity is uprooted from our evolutionary foundations in nature and we have forgotten how to be present to the ongoing sensory flow. Instead we are immersed in a world of concepts, ideologies, electronic media and controlled environments. There are many benefits to our technologically supported experience, but to go forward we need to re-member ourselves in the greater sea of being. The Forest helps us remember and teaches us much forgotten wisdom, without words.
When we immerse all our senses in the forest, we become receptive to the energizing sea of sensation. Activities like hiking or fishing also infuse us with vitamin N but it is the quality of consciousness that determines how much benefit is received. The relaxed attentive receptive sensory state can be developed with practice and results in an increase of wellness on all levels along with a deep appreciation of nature.
Click on the soundscapes below, close your eyes and listen. Bring your attention fully present to the listening, hearing each sound. Notice how you naturally follow moment to moment the sounds as they arise here and there, different calls, not mechanical or orderly, but novel and spontaneous yet also harmonious….. This sensory presence is multiplied with sight smell and touch and also a sensory awareness of ourselves, our breath, posture, our mood or atmosphere, all bringing us into the moment. All strengthening our parasympathetic regulatory relaxation response
When we immerse all our senses in the forest, we will maximize our intake of Vitamin N. This can be increased over time with practice as we learn to reconnect to the more than human world.
Forest Therapy Guides are trained in helping people re-enter this sensory domain and they have a magic backpack full of fun explorations and exercises that help people deepen their receptivity to the encompassing sensory presence of the forest.
Guided Forest Therapy Excursions are often done in small groups because the sensory activities and meditations are especially fun and enjoyable to share. It brings us closer to each other as well as to nature. It is a wonderful family activity. Forest Therapy brings together groups of people to experience and share in various awareness activities that are deeply pleasurable.
As we learn how to deepen our presence to nature, nature becomes truly present to us. As this happens we want to share it with others. We feel touched deep inside and it fills us with delight and even gives us personal messages. Nature is always mirroring and teaching us, revealing our own place and inter-being with all of it.
What is even more impressive is that this simple practice strikes at the heart of all modern dis-ease, the results of unprocessed and unabated stress. Just thinking activates the stress response and we don’t know how to stop thinking.
All our chronic debilitating diseases are known to be stress related. When we are continuously functioning from the sympathetic side of the autonomic nervous system we are flooding our bodies with strong organic compounds that are not good for us if we are over exposed. These potent substances that are meant to be used in emergencies. As a steady diet they are essentially poisons and our body starts reacting to them that way.
The antidote is to shift into the parasympathetic side of the autonomic nervous system. We do not have voluntary control to do this, but there are ways actively engage it. These activities act to strengthen the tone and capacity of the Vagus nerve . ( See the article below from Psychology Today for more information.) Certain activities like breathing in certain ways, shaking, toning, focusing on the heart, and being here now, in the present moment to moment of our sensory experience. All this can strengthen and invoke our relaxation response, shifting the body into parasympathetic mode. The longer this can be sustained the more the Heart Rate Variability goes into a state of Coherence. When this happens the entire body will entrain into this state of coherence. (see the nature and forest therapy .org link below for links to a vast body of scientific research and evidence of the health and well being benefits.)
We also discover that we can bring this state into our daily livese giving us grace and ease even under pressure. See the Psychology Today article The neurobiology of grace under pressure.…
Forest therapy can be combined with these other effective activities for a great way to decompress and reset the body/mind to flow.
Forest Therapy can be taught individually but it is especially enjoyable in groups. I use it on all supported retreats at the Earthwalk Retreat.
Forest Therapy Luncheon Retreats: This can be a half or a whole day and includes meeting space for your business retreat or organization; a healthy luncheon and 90 minutes to 3 hours of Forest Therapy. You will be amazed at the resulting creativity and harmony that is generated. Capacity: 3-25
Book a Forest Therapy Session or join a Workshop at the Earthwalk Retreat. For scheduled group events go to meetup.com/The-Art-of-Soul-Whispering/
Consider a personal retreat or gift certificate for your favorite care giver. Organize a Forest Therapy Event at your favorite place.
Learn to be a Forest Guide.
The Mission of the Forest Therapy Institute of Virginia is to train others to offer this activity in order to make it more available to all populations. Recreational therapists, environmental educators, activities directors in nursing homes, people working with vets and others with PTSD, those who work with the handicapped, healers and Yoga instructors and a cadre of volunteers at many favorite local places.
To do this the institute will offer training to be a Forest Therapy Guide. Certificates and CEUs for those who can use them will be available. We are also identifying and promoting various wonderful outdoor places where people can offer and find this program. We envision Forest Therapy available everywhere so that people and nature come together as much as possible. It could easily be offered in venues from botanical gardens and neighborhood parks to resort hotels, and of course local, state and national parks. Forest Therapy excursions could be a popular vacation experience in all kinds of wonderful locations deepening enjoyment of the natural beauty and deepening the benefits of the vacation
Consider learning to be a Forest Guide. The Mission of the Forest Therapy Institute of Virginia is to train others in various fields such as recreational therapists, environmental educators, activities directors in nursing homes, people working with vets coming back with PTSD, and those who work with the handicapped, healers and Yoga instructors etc, to offer Forest Therapy experiences to their clients. To do this the institute will recognize individuals who we have trained and list regional areas for these programs to be offered. We also encourage these activities where ever they can be offered. This is also a wonderful tourism activity that can be done at various resort areas and hotels near natural beauty, including state and national parks. Individuals could offer Forest Therapy Excursions that will help people deepen their vacation experience and enjoyment of the natural beauty they came to.
Contact Darlene Rollins for more information on upcoming Forest Therapy Trainings firstname.lastname@example.org