W90-Spiral-gradient-clean-Healing Forest walks are meditative walks that we take in nature, either alone or in small groups. It is a way of finding calm and balance. It helps us in becoming free of thoughts that trouble us or hinder us. It is about finding answers to difficult questions and bringing clarity to life. Above all, it is a journey that creates lasting peace and serenity.

On this page, you will find some tips and pointers to introduce you to healing forest walks also known as forest bathing or shinrin-yoku in Japan.

Forests are known to have great therapeutic benefits for our body, mind, and spirit. Through a set of structured games, meditations and activities we aim to search for new answers and insights that may help us in our lives.


FIND YOUR CALM

The 3 key values of a healing forest walk are silence, going slow and focusing on our senses. It is not about physical exercise or collecting information. The aim is to quieten the voice in our heads and fill ourselves with a feeling of calm. 

Senses: Focus on the senses to bring your awareness to the present moment. Give importance to all the different senses. The aim is to direct our attention away from unwanted thoughts. It’s easy to do when we notice nature more closely.

Slow: Don’t hurry or rush. It’s about finding awe, wonder, and inspiration in nature. Go at your own pace. Slow down to observe and connect. When you spend more time at a place, you build a deeper relationship with it.

Silence: Move from thinking to feeling. Learn to carry the forest within you. Even when we are not in nature, the peace and serenity of the forests can be a part of us and influence people around us.

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The two other values are ‘Safety’ and ‘Sharing’. Always take adequate steps to ensure your safety in the forest. Be aware of the trail map and also the different beings of the forest.  When traveling in groups, allow space for sharing at the end of any activity or the walk completion. The sharing space should be free of judgments and unwanted advice. 


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FOREST MEDITATIONS

Move in small groups and in silence. The idea is to talk less and listen more. To experience nature around us with awareness. Over the course of this walk, you may undertake short tasks (Forest meditations) that deepen your connection with the forests. Please undertake the task to the best of your ability and inclination.

Typically the Healing forest walk sessions last for 2 hours. Any forest, lake or natural water body, city park, mountain trail can turn into a healing forest walk.

You can walk slowly for 15 minutes and spend then next 20 minutes focusing on one of your senses – sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. You can then continue the walk and stop whenever you find a place that calls out to you. Sit in your space, observe and learn from nature.

Here are a few forest meditations:

Sound: Listen to the sounds of the forest. Count how many different sounds you can hear. Can you hear the stillness that holds all the sounds?

Sight: See as far as you can. Observe things as if you are seeing them for the first time. Observe things as if you are seeing them for the last time.

Smell: Take deep breaths to soak in the scents of the forest. Every object in nature has a unique smell. Pick up interesting objects and smell them to create a memory of the moment.

Touch: Sit on a rock with your feet firmly on the ground. Hold a piece of the forest in your palms – A pebble / a leaf / a blade of grass. Close your eyes and pay attention to the touch. Connect with the forest. Connect with the earth.

Taste: Carry fruit or some tea with you. Eat the fruit slowly. As slow as you can. Imagine the sunlight that feeds the plant becomes the fruit that becomes a part of you. Observe how everything in nature in interlinked with each other.

Insight: Choose any one word from the following: Impermanence, Interconnectedness, Insignificance. Reflect on the meaning by observing the relationships in nature.

For more ideas for healing forest walks please visit our resources page. If you have suggestions for adding to our list of forest games and meditations, please email us your ideas or leave a comment below.

Enjoy the healing.

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END NOTE: We are creating a small community of forest friends who share a close connection with nature. The idea is to learn from each other and share our experiences from different forests around the world. To get a monthly newsletter with new learning please sign up at this link

*This page is part of our learning program. Once you have tried out these activities on a nature walk, you can proceed to learn the next set of activities at this link. (or simply click on the acorn)

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BONUS: FOREST GAMES

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Download link of Forest Games poster.

11 thoughts on “Walks

  1. Idea for a forest game or meditation – In a forest clearing, people could lie down facing upwards and watch/observe the sky – the clouds changing shape and moving around, the birds, the sun, the stars. We did this in a forest once at night. It was so quiet and peaceful and we’d never seen so many stars together before. It was a phenomenal experience. A suggestion 🙂

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  2. Saw the movie yesterday and was moved beyond words. I have been a walker and a photographer for years yet never really knew why I felt rushed and not at peace after the many group walks I undertook. Nitin brought it out so beautifully. will now follow the path of silence and observance. Thanks Nitin.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi

    Today I attended the screening of movie, Healing Forest of India in IIC. It was a great experience. Many things are touched with focus on bringing healing effect of Forest. Probably each part being expanded in itself and that will make film by itself. Say for an example, students being exposed to nature walk or Sacred Forests of India etc. Lot of things can be explored in each part of it. This film is a good introduction, but kahani can be explored further. Being studied forestry from IIFM, Bhopal, I can relate many things. I was just contemplating,
    – Can we screen the film in some good schools or colleges in India. This is to motivate and connect next generation to the beauty of nature. If yes, please guide on how to take it forward. This will be done on a non commercial way for sure.

    Kindly guide.
    Regards
    Deepak

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  4. Hello! This is Satyajit. I attended the screening of India’s Healing Forest on 17th September 2018 at IIC Delhi. It was a really experience and I want to be a volunteer or contribute and particute in the next forest walk in any possible way.
    Please do let me know !

    Thank you !

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  5. Thank you for sharing this website, what a beautiful video. I am thinking of my friend Helen, as I look at the healing qualities of this practice. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to share our scrub land with Forest Bathing participants.

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    2. You can also use Ad Blocker. I have used it for years and it still works and almost every website (including this marvelous website!)

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  6. I could have lost my life in 2015 due to a cycling accident leaving me with 9 fractures, hematoma on my brain, pulmonary contusion and 1.5 weeks later a pulmonary embolism. As soon as I could I began my healing path by daily soaks in natural hot springs and started my journey to slowly begin walking in nature for healing. Today I am doing amazing with where my healing has taken me and am planning on hiking about 40 miles around the high mountains of Ouray Colorado this week. I could barely walk to the bathroom when I started. I took my coaching behind the chair as a cosmetologist further; I studied life coaching and became a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner. I now inspire people with my journey and do coaching walks in nature in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado. I help people with their healing process weather due to illness, accident or loss. I also help people transition into entrepreneurial career path that serves their heart and soul.

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  7. I began my training as a forest therapy guide in May 2016 in the Berkshires, MA. I knew the power nature had on me was great and my call to this work was so real, I could not turn down this chance. I, however, had never left my children behind for any length of time and was full of fears regarding being absent for a week and a half. The first walk we had was to be the biggest turning point in my life thus far. As we walked slowly through the forest, silently, I heard the rustle of a leaf. It was on a beech tree, still left from the last fall. it was still holding on and quivering, spastically, in the breeze. Heard it, then I saw it and the quivering resonated with me so strongly, I had to interact with this leaf. I gently plucked the leaf from the small sapling and held it in my hands, so gently. Cupping it, I continued my walk through the forest. At the top of the hill, the thought occured to me that I should release this leaf with the next gust of wind. As I did that, I felt all of my fears just leave, just like the leaf flew away, high above the forest. They left me that day and have never returned. That is not to say I do not question myself or wonder about things, but the foundational fears holding back my life are forever gone. The forest will continue to teach me. For that I am grateful!

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