What to Expect on a Nature & Forest Therapy Walk
Forest Therapy is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, which is described as an immersion in the atmosphere of the forest. During a session, we move slowly, quiet our minds, and awaken our senses to the experience of being in the forest.
A walk is usually 2.5 hours long, but may be 1.5 or 3 hours. We move slowly, pause often and don't go far, so a high level of fitness isn't necessary. Some walks are on wheelchair-accessible trails. After you register, your Guide will let you know what to bring, what to wear, and ask you about any relevant allergies or health concerns.
We meet up and head down the trail together. The Guide leads a sequence of invitations, for solo exploration or sometimes in pairs. These support you in quieting your mind and awakening to the gifts of the forest. The invitations often prompt you to tune in to a particular sense -- sight, hearing, touch, even your "imaginal sense". The guide periodically calls everyone back together and offers people the opportunity to share stories or insights from their explorations. There's no pressure to speak when we gather together. We end the walk with snacks and tea, made from plants from the trail we've just walked, and a chance to share any final reflections.
What a gift! This will open your senses to nature's beauty - a 'connecting' process that will bring peace to head and heart, and feelings of childlike wonderment.
Benefits of Nature & Forest Therapy
We know it intuitively -- time in a garden, by the water, or on a welcoming trail just feels good!
Scientific research offers compelling evidence for the benefits of nature and forest therapy. This kind of slow, meditative time in nature is needed in our over-scheduled, on-the-go culture. It's also helpful for people who have health issues and have to slow down as they recover. And it can be an important way to re-kindle our relationship with Nature, and awaken gratitude and wonder.
Scientific studies show that nature and forest time can:
A Nature & Forest Therapy practice can also support health from a broader perspective by:
It is calming and stimulating, and underscores the human health benefits of forests and of contemplation. It is an escape from machine noise and the two-dimensional digital world.
Why go with a Guide?
A Forest Therapy Guide gently invites you to new levels of awareness and nature connection, introducing you to ways of relating to the more-than-human world, that you can then apply in daily life. The Guide knows how to step back and let the forest offer its medicine, giving you space for your own exploration and discovery.
By the end of the walk, many people arrive at a state of deep calm and discover healing that goes beyond the physical level. Even lifelong outdoor enthusiasts discover new layers to their experience.
The Guide follows a particular sequence on a walk, designed and refined to help participants shift from stress to relaxation; from habitual patterns to new possibilities; from living in their heads to being fully present in their bodies. Ultimately, a Forest Therapy practice supports a shift from fragmented living and disconnection, to wholeness and belonging within the wider world of life.
Andrea Prazmowski, your Forest Therapy Ottawa Guide, is trained in Wilderness First Aid and has decades of experience on the trail and in the outdoors. She chooses a trail carefully, scouts it in advance of each walk, takes safety precautions, and adapts the walk to suit the participants' needs and abilities.
The Forest is the therapist.
This disclaimer applies to all information on this site, and to all services, products and courses offered. No service, course, or product offered by Forest Therapy Ottawa is intended, in any way to be a substitute or replacement for licensed medical care. In addition, the information and techniques on this site do not constitute medical advice. Always seek medical advice from a qualified doctor or practitioner in the case of serious illness. Forest Therapy Ottawa & its owner will not act as a therapist or counsellor and does not diagnose, treat, or provide cures for any medical condition.