‘Nature Talks’ Healing Walks
“when nature speaks….listen”
What is Nature and Forest Therapy (NFT)?
Nature and Forest Therapy is a research-based framework for supporting healing and wellness developed by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. Forest therapy has been inspired by the traditional Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku (or forest bathing). It is the simple practice of taking a slow mindful walk in nature, igniting all of your senses to engage with your surroundings. Relaxing for body, mind and spirit, the forest provides the medicine for your healing journey.
How does it work?
NFT walks generally run for 2-3 hours. After an initial welcome and orientation to place, the guide encourages mindfulness through an evolving series of suggested invitations to help you connect with the more-than-human world around you. Each invitation is crafted to help you slow down and open up each of your bodily senses.
“As we do this we begin to perceive more deeply the nuances of the constant stream of communications rampant in any natural setting. We learn to let the land and its messages penetrate into our minds and hearts more deeply.”
Who will benefit?
NFT benefits people of all ages and stages in life.
Walks can be arranged specifically for corporate groups, friends, colleagues and interest groups or you can join a public walk to meet new people.
Contact us to discuss walk options for your workplace or group.
Getting back to Indigenous ways of knowing and being
The First Nations peoples of Australia have always known about the healing powers of the bush. Living off the land provides physical activity for good health, nutrition for the body and spiritual health for the mind. Connection to country nurtures a deeply rooted respect for mother nature. Glady and Jill Milroy* say:
“The tree is the symbol of life itself and trees actively support our life on earth, through all its cycles and in all its dimensions, physically, emotionally and spiritually.”
For Aboriginal people, the land is full of stories, healing practices and lessons for living. The practice of dadirri goes to the heart of what it means to be connected spiritually to the country, being in nature and listening to the rhythm of the land. Miriam-Rose Ungurmurr says resting in quiet still awareness allows us to deeply contemplate this connection, to know and discover who we really are, who we are connected to, and our ancestor’s journeys that have led us here.
So unique and sacred is the connection to country, that Aboriginal people become sick physically and emotionally, if away from their homelands for extended periods. Loss of connection to land through colonisation has disrupted the spiritual relationships of communities and peoples, resulting in a loss of identity and spiritual wellbeing. The land itself has also suffered the loss of a caretaker for its country.
Like the Indigenous contemplative practice of dadirri, NFT invites you to
‘(re)connect, slow down, listen and just be’.
The benefits of NFT
There is a lot of emerging scientific evidence about the health effects of being in the forest. Simply being in the wilderness has been shown to increase immune function, reduce blood pressure and rates of cardiovascular and respiratory disease, reduce stress and prevent psychosocial stress related illness, improve mood and thinking, increase focus and concentration, improve mental performance and creativity, improve rates of recovery from surgery and illness, increase energy and improve sleep. If you love the science, click here for references.
Research on forest bathing in Japan has demonstrated that the chemical that evergreen trees emit to protect themselves from germs and pests is the same essential oil that improves the human immune system. They are called phytoncides and they produce cancer-fighting natural killer (NK) cells in our body.
Being in nature has other benefits too like developing a mutually respectful relationship with the earth, deepening our practice of earth care, fair share and place tending. The gifts of awe and wonder emerge as your intuitive skills to communicate with the more-than-human world become finely tuned. People on regular forest therapy walks report feeling happier, developing deeper more meaningful relationships, feeling more connected with the land and its species, having more energy and developing a more attuned intuition.
So what are you waiting for? Turn your screen off and get out there! Your mind and body will thank you for it.
Why go with a guide?
The founder of NFT says “Like yoga, meditation, prayer, working out, and many other worthy endeavors, shinrin-yoku is a practice. And because it is a practice, it is best to learn it from a qualified guide.”
Lucy Van Sambeek is a Certified Guide trained by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy and a member of Nature and Wellbeing Australia. Living in the Nambucca Valley, Lucy brings more than 10 years experience as a social worker in remote and urban Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. Her passion is bringing opportunities for healing to people through nature, art and storytelling.
What have others said about ‘Nature Talks’ Healing Walks?
“If you want to de-stress, go on one of Lucy’s walks.”
“Be prepared to put aside all your preconceptions, troubles, complaints, judgements, needs, expectations and demands, and give yourself the gift of accepting what the forest has to offer, as it’s something unique and special.”
“This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with the forest and self: a practice to develop.”
“This experience delivered most unexpected results. I didn’t think I had anything that needed healing, but the centreing experience of slowing down and blending my conscious with that of the forest, has definitely left me feeling so at peace”.
“I would say it is something that needs to be experienced, rather than spoken about.”
Upcoming ‘Nature Talks’ Healing Walks
Please click on the following links for further details and bookings.
See you in nature.
*Milroy, G & J. in Morgan in Heartsick for Country, eds. Tjalamiu, M., & Kwaymullina, B. & Kwaymullina, B.
The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy California.