Go to any well-known fine art museum and you can expect to stand in line with throngs of people just to get a glimpse of a beautiful piece of work of art. Go to any forest or natural surrounding, and- unless it is huge national park like Yosemite or Yellowstone- you may be the only person there. Why spend hours with other people to look at an artistic rendition of nature when you can step outside and see the real deal? The forest is a natural art gallery, with colors, textures, and creative compositions that only Earth can create. In this week's blog, Susan Corl walks us through the Natural Palace of Earth Art, and guides us to notice the unique beauty to be found in the bark of a tree or on the forest floor. May this piece inspire the artistic-eye to emerge in all those who are in the forest.
The practice of using found items in nature to create art is catching fire in the field of nature-connection. This method of creative expression was popularized by the highly imaginative artist Andy Goldsworthy, and is a wonderful way to interact with the natural surroundings, as well as leaving a mark impermanent beauty that one time was not there. Yet diving deeper into the act of creation through natural materials, is the intentional creation of mandalas out of these same material and what this can mean for the person who creates. In this week's blog, Liza Pullman explores the significance of the mandala: its implication in the human psyche, the use in religious & spiritual traditions, and how the creation of nature mandalas is a way for a person to strengthen the connective bond between themselves and the natural world. One part history, one part psychology, and one part invitation to explore, we hope this piece opens the doorway to your own inspiration to create a mandala next time you find yourself out in nature. Who knows what insights may arise in the process.
Spending time in nature expands our hearts and minds in more ways than one, and this is especially true for the children in our lives. The non-predictable essence of spending time outdoors is a stark contrast from the robotic nature of television shows or the safe confines of a bedroom. The great outdoors bring with it a whole host of new experiences, most of which are unplanned and altogether new. This 'newness' leads to wonder, and opens the doorway for 'how' and 'why' inquiries. In this week's blog, guest writer David Davis shares with us his thoughts on bringing his children into nature and the existential inquiries which arise. This piece portrays the depth of influence time in nature has on a young mind and heart, and give credence to all the teachers before who found 'enlightenment' while sitting under a tree or next to a body of water.
When we say the words 'Nature and Forest Therapy', some people assume the practice is far out of their reach- that only those who have gone through our training program have the tools to engage in this practice. Yet this is far from the truth. One of the most potent practices of Nature and Forest Therapy that we promote to our Guides-in-Training and to the world at large is the development of a Sit Spot. What is a 'Sit Spot' you ask? In this week's blog, Forest Therapy Guide Susan Joachim of Melbourne, Australia tells us all about this highly potent practice. She descibes what to take into consideration when finding a Sit Spot, and invites us not feel like we have to 'do it right'; but rather relax in the process of cultivating relationship with one piece of land. We hope this piece inspires you to find a Sit Spot of your own, and to discover all the beauty it has to offer.
It's common to hear people of older generations comment on how different their childhood was compared to the lives of children now. There was less media, less generalized fear, and more time spent outdoors. We often hear stories of how our parents or grandparents spent hours alone or with their friends wandering through the landscape, with little to no supervision. Fast forward to today's world and parents are taught live in fear of the world for their children. As consequence, children are spending less time outdoors than ever before, with the television-babysitter becoming a common practice. While this is a trend being commented on by people such as Richard Louv and organizations like the Children and Nature Network, there are those who are intentionally finding ways to immerse their children in the great outdoors- even when their culture does not support it. Katriina Kilpi, a Finnish expat living in Belgium, describes her experience of being an outdoorsy Mother living in a non-outdoorsy environment, all the while doing the best she can to instill the value of nature in her children. This is a beautiful piece about remembering a carefree, nature-full childhood, and the struggles of living in a location where a nature-based lifestyle is not the norm.
Recent research shows that there is more to the life of plants than we ever imagined and knew before. Intimate communications among them, sensory perception, and energetic responses are some of the new characteristics we have discovered when it comes to the plant world. What do these new personality traits mean for inter-species relationships between humans and plants? How can we utilize these new understandings to dive deeper into connection and relationship with our photo-synthesizing neighbors? In this week's blog piece, Daniel Burge explores intimate communication and fellowship with plants in the surrounding lands of his home in Ireland. He tells of profound messages, longing, and a deep love which only a flower could evoke. May this piece inspire you to explore personal relationship and contact with the plant kingdom around your own home. Perhaps they have a message for you which you need to hear.
Every now and then a well known business or publications circulates a piece on Forest Therapy which we find very helpful and informative. This is one of them. Forest Therapy is taking off in the spa-world, and this piece by Erica Bay (originally posted on Orbitz.com) give a wonderful overview of the spas around the United States which have partnered with ANFT to bring forest bathing to their guests. If you are looking to incorporate Forest Bathing into your next luxury spa experience, we recommend checking out one of the locations listed below. Happy forest bathing!
When going out into the woods or in the wild, we are undoubtedly likely to encounter other wildlife whose lands we are entering into. These creatures large and small surround us while we take solace in their peaceful homeland. For centuries indigenous cultures have appreciated and valued the wisdom and insight of these non-human animals, and have listened to their communications. Yet, in our hustle and bustle world, we have lost sight of the possibility of communication between species, and now see animals as ignorant, non-emotional creatures who have nothing to offer us in the way of wisdom or intelligence. This story shared by ANFT Founder and Director Amos Clifford is a beautiful tale of how through non-verbal communication and an intelligence beyond his own capacity, Coyote saved Amos from potential death. This story offers us insight into the depth of compassion and perception of the more-than-human world, and invites us to open ourselves up to the communications these creatures have for us.
The ANFT website gets traffic from all over the world. We have people looking into our work from almost every continent, and we consistently receive feedback and inquiries regarding trainings and guides, as well as anecdotal stories of how our work touched them. Nupur Sandhu of India is one of these people. She reached out to us here at ANFT relaying her experience of finding our website, reading up on the practice, and then guiding herself through a series of invitiations- all of which inspired immense healing within her. Here she shares her experience of discovering Forest Bathing and two poems which emerged through this experience. It is always humbling to learn how even through the internet, the healing powers of nature and the forest call to people, and bring them into healing that otherwise would not have been available.
This blog is written by ANFT Staff Writers and guest contributors. Submissions may be emailed to Blog Editor Denell Nawrocki at ANFTsubmissions@gmail.com for consideration.