Recently we were invited to try Forest Bathing in Liverpool with Journeys In Nature. Here we’ll tell you more about Forest Bathing and our experience of this traditional Japanese practice that is gaining in popularity in the UK.
What is forest bathing?
Claire Deeney, is the face behind Journeys In Nature. As a certified forest bathing guide through the Forest Therapy Hub, she expertly leads groups on Forest Bathing journeys in Liverpool. Below is her own description of what Forest Bathing is:
Forest bathing is a nature connection and wellbeing practice that derives from the Japanese term ‘shinrin yoku’ which means ‘bathing in the forest atmosphere’ using your senses.
The aim of forest bathing is to help you to slow down and connect to nature by awakening all of your senses. This increases your capacity to be fully present and enables feelings of relaxation and calmness. Research shows that Forest Bathing helps reduce stress, lowers cortisol levels, reduces blood pressure, lowers heart rate, improves concentration and stimulates creative thinking.
Forest Bathing with Journeys In Nature
Our Forest Bathing journey was at the hidden gem that is Childwall Woods and Fields, where we met Claire and the rest of our small group (group sizes are limited to 10 people to enhance the experience). You can also book private group sessions, if you would prefer to share the experience with friends or family or for a special occasion. Or one-to-one sesssions (female only) are also available.
Claire guided us into the woods and talked us through what exactly Forest Bathing is and what to expect from the two-hour session. The experience involves different ‘invitations’ which Claire leads. These ‘invitations’ include a short guided meditation session, where you’re invited to find a nice spot to sit to take part in the meditation. There was also a slow paced walk, where we were able to truely take in our surroundings, the sights, smells and sensations of the woods, without the usual distractions of the outside world.
Furthermore there were ‘invitations’ where we could wander around the woods and explore certain areas and take time to reflect by ourselves, still within the same area as Claire.
At the end of each ‘invitation’, there was a Sharing Circle, where the group would gather and share our experiences. Now, don’t worry, Claire makes it clear from the start that you can choose to share in any way that you are comfortable with and you don’t have to say anything at all.
You can feel completely comfortable within yourself here. No one is asked to speak, it is up to you if want to. It must be said that these circles are very relaxed and welcoming.
We ended the session with a closing gathering, where again we could share our experiences and reflections of connecting to nature, before we headed off home.
Our Forest Bathing Experience
If you’re open to the experience of Forest Bathing then Claire’s sessions are such an enjoyable and relaxing experience. There’s real scientific research out there that supports the health benefits of Forest Bathing.
We found ourselves able to shut off from the world for a few hours and experience nature. It’s suprising how much of the natural world we notice when we take away other distractions like our phones. You may well find that your mind will still wander to other distractions but like with meditation and mindfulness we can practice how to let these thoughts pass and again focus on what is around us. Taking time to live in the present moment felt really special and something that we will continue to work on.
To know that we can enjoy an experience like this in the suburbs of the city is such an asset. Claire is such a friendly, welcoming host, so even if you’re a bit sceptical, Claire will put you at ease.
We’re already planning on heading back out on another journey with Claire in the spring when we can enjoy seeing the woods when the plants and trees will take on a new lease of life too!
How to book your Forest Bathing Journey
Claire runs the Forest Bathing sessions approximately once a month and you can book via www.journeysinnature.com/events. Claire offers a 50% discount for NHS staff on public walks, with limited places. Please contact Claire directly before you book to get the discount code.