Finding peace through contact with nature | Environment



At first glance, when you hear the word “forest bathing,” you may imagine purifying your body in a lush forest where only native animals can be observed.

But that impression has nothing to do with reality. Rather, this seemingly contradictory combination of words describes a therapy that involves communing with nature to shake off stress and negativity and promote peace and relaxation.

“It’s a funny name, but what I always say is that forest bathing is a slow, quiet, guided sensory experience with nature that has proven physical and mental health benefits. ,” said Robin DeMattier, founder and owner of Naples-based Go Forest Bathing.

A certified forest therapy guide, she has been leading group forest bathing sessions at Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center and other locations in Collier County since starting her company last spring.

Forest Bathing is based on the practice of “Shinrin-yoku” (Shinrin-yoku in English), which existed in the 1980s as a way to offset the effects of Japan’s overbearing and highly technological society and improve people’s physical and mental health. .

“They are transforming from an agricultural society to a technological society, and residents have access to more medical services,” DeMattier explained. “They had more stress, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, etc. So since the 1980s, scientists have been studying the health benefits of forest bathing. Decades of research has shown it can lower levels and help with anxiety, stress, depression, cardiovascular health, and immune function.”

Sessions typically last approximately two hours and begin with an overview of forest bathing and what participants will be doing. A guided meditation follows, after which the group carefully walks through nature, allowing their senses to connect with their surroundings as they reflect on their hearts and minds.

2. Forest bathing at Rookery Bay CMYK.tif

“Forest Bathing at Rookery Bay Reserve” was held at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center.

Walks are short, less than half a mile, and may include several seated areas along the way. And I don’t always go for walks. “Often we sit in the same spot and spend the first 30 minutes or so in that spot, then step away for about 10 to 15 minutes to experience the sensations of nature. Then we sit down again and go back to where we were sitting. Masu.”

“I follow standard training procedures that the Nature and Forest Therapy Association has developed and refined over the past 11 years,” DeMattier said of the organization that trained and certified her. “We follow this protocol because it helps put people into a relaxed state. So I always assess the environment, I always assess the participants, how everyone is reacting, We adjust the speed of the program and the activities of the program based on how relaxed you are.”

DeMattier has encountered people who wonder why they need a guide when they already spend so much time in nature.

“Then they will come with me and find that their experience with forest bathing is different because they have a guide to help them and there are other people around them,” she said. “There are optional shared components that allow people to experience nature in a different way. One of the reasons I say this is a nature experience is that it’s not just in the forest, it’s someone’s Because you can do it in your backyard. We’re planning something at the beach. We’re doing it indoors for people who can’t go outside. It brings the senses of sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing indoors. can.”

3. Forest Bathing Friends CMYK.tif

“Forest Bathing Friends” was located in the Rivers Road Reserve.

Sessions are best suited for groups of 10-20 people, but larger groups can be accommodated. DeMattier said science has proven that the benefits of forests last for 30 days, and he hopes people will participate monthly based on that.

In Collier County, sessions are held regularly at Rookery Bay on the Henderson Creek Trail and at the Gore Nature Center, a garden of hope and courage located off Tamiami Trail North and next to downtown Naples Community Hospital. is provided. The next session at Rookery Bay will be held on April 6th, and another session is scheduled for May 11th.

DeMattia also conducts private sessions in locations such as churches and housing developments, and can also conduct sessions remotely over the Internet using virtual meeting software. They are also expanding into Lee County.

“I’m the only certified forest bathing guide between Miami and Tampa, so I’m happy to travel,” she said.

For more information about Go Forest Bathing and to register for future sessions, visit The Rookery Bay Learning Center is located at 300 Tower Rd. For more information, visit

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