Forest Bathing: July 2022 – the full report – and pictures

Forest Bathing Walk, text by Simon, pictures by Jonathan.

Well what a surprise! Over half the group of 30 opted to go Forest Bathing! Way more than I could ever hope for.

We made our way up and along a narrow path into the woods and left the other walkers to continue the full walk.

As we walked I could tell that the notes and web links previously shared were already working – there was a noticeable hush in the group, very little noise, hardly any talking and I could feel the group getting into the mood for a mindful session in the woods.

Once we got to the chosen spot I handed out plastic bin bags for everyone to sit or lie on. We all dispersed to our own little bit of the wood without speaking – we all settled down quietly.

We had about 20 minutes of peace and tranquillity all alone in the woods. Listening to the birds (an owl towards the end), hearing the wind through the leaves, we just tuned into nature and our own silence and presence in the woods.

The main group arrived as planned (thank you Stan for leading them) and we spent a few minutes just talking about the experience as we rejoined the group. I’m pleased to say that everyone seemed to enjoy it!

The comments on WhatsApp just reinforced the positive feedback. Given the responses I have had I will definitely offer another forest bathing walk as soon as I can.

Additional commentary from Tony

As a person brought up in urban environments and who had never even heard of “forest bathing” before this venture (and had completely the wrong idea of what it was all about) I’ve been fascinated to follow this through from its introduction by Simon to its final outcome.

The opening part of the walk itself took us by what I think must be Laxton Hall (left), one of the grand country homes set in unspoilt acres, and was indeed very pleasant, and combining all the usual chitchat with outstanding vistas.  But of course one’s mind was on what was to come.

At its simplest, forest bathing was sitting in silence in woodland and seeing what happens, which makes it all sound a bit twee.   And yet, the memory of that 20 minutes or so sitting there is still vivid in my mind getting on for a week later (which is quite remarkable given the way my memory is working – or refusing to work – these days).

It was also interesting that after the event, as we rejoined the regular walk back to the car park, I didn’t hear much chat about the “bathing” – it was as if we had all had our own experiences and they were needing to be processed and considered before we started even thinking about sharing them.

Certainly five days later I can remember the spot at which I lay down my bin bag, and recall what was around me, but I can’t quite recall what was going on in my mind.  Which I guess means I truly did manage to shut down for a while – and that for me was extremely welcome.

Writing now as a veteran of forest bathing (well, ok, I’ve done one 20-minute session) I really do want to do it again and see how far I can develop this personally.  I thought I was quite familiar with my own abilities and (more commonly) inabilities in the field of meditation, but this has brought about a considerable rethink.

Obviously, it is up to each individual member of the group to decide if she or he wishes to participate if we can do another walk like this, but I would say, if you are interested but a little unsure, do give it a go.  I think you could well be surprised at the outcome.


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