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  • Writer's pictureJeanne Christie

Becoming a Forest Therapy Guide (Part 1)

Updated: Dec 19, 2020

There was something happening to me in the forest that I didn’t understand.

I am a trail runner. I have been for decades. But I still remember the day I started running. I was sixteen. I was bored.

We lived in northern Minnesota. It was February. It was cold. Very cold. I jogged slowly for two miles through a forest sparkling ice, an experience outside my everyday life. I have been running ever since.

My daily run has always been an opportunity for reflection and often creative thinking. Sometimes, when life was particularly challenging, it was the only good thing that happened that day.

Then a couple years ago something changed. I was running on a familiar trail when I stopped and looked around. I felt as though I had heard a shout. But there was no sound. I stood and stared and the stillness of the forest the limitless sky above, and the solid earth below surrounded me. I wandered off the trail exploring the edge of a swamp, gently touching leaves noticing their shape and texture, thinking of nothing in particular.

After a while I got back on the trail and completed my run, but that wasn’t the only time it happened. Some days the run was normal, but on others I heard that silent call, and the run became a wander, a slow exploration of the forest and the natural world around me.

I enjoyed my meanders, but was puzzled. Why was this happening?

Then I read an article in the Portland Press Herald about Forest Bathing. . And I thought ‘Aha! This is a way to understand my wandering.’

In the following months I signed up to take the training provided by the Association of Forest and Nature Therapy Guides and Programs.

Through the training I found a way to understand and explore the impulse that kept sending me wandering through the forest. I crated Connect to Wilderness, LLC.

You may be one of those people who has something special they do regularly to reflect and re-energize. It might be walking or swimming, meditation, music, cooking or art. There are many activities that feed our spirit. Forest Therapy Guided walks are different from any of them. Wandering through the forest and exploring invitations many people who participate in the walks arrive at a place of peace and tranquility often experiencing a deepened connection to the natural world.

Would it happen to you if you went on a guided walk?

I don’t know.

I’m just a guide.

The forest is the therapist.

Thanks for reading!


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