Get to Know a Guide: Alex Gesse
Tell us a little about your background.
What led you to become a Forest Therapy guide?
The forest called me! A few days later I applied for the training.
How are people in Portugal responding to Forest Therapy?
We are following different approaches in both countries. In Portugal, not so many people know about Forest Therapy. We work on direct contact between people and forests, participating in events or working with the media. On the other hand in Spain, there are a lot of companies or individuals that are offering Forest Bathing. In Spain, our work is more about explaining what Forest Therapy means for us: a practice structured on the Standard Sequence.
Can you share a memorable experience from one of your walks?
How have you seen young people change? (Share an example or two.)
On the other hand, I've noticed the relationship between the group. The group becomes whole and the teen's become willing to take care of each other. However, at the same time they give each other space to stand by themselves. The teens started to take into account how their decisions affect the rest of the group. They follow the wisdom of indigenous people, and at this moment their gratitude has started to shine.
How has becoming a guide changed you?
Being a guide has not only changed me, it has provided me with tools that I can use to guide my own journey. Being a Forest Therapy guide allows me to express myself in a more true way…a way which I believe in.
What opportunities do you see for Forest Therapy to grow in Europe? (fyi, I would love to do it for the migrant & refugee communities there someday...)
In personal terms, for me the discovery of opportunity was found when I began working with children from dysfunctional families. This project brings opportunities to get in contact with schools since we are proposing Forest Therapy as regular practice for the children. Another group with great growth potential is with large corporations, which we are already beginning to work with. This approach can produce great changes in how we reintegrate ourselves into natural cycles not only on a personal level but also at the level of the current productive system.
In any case, we want to encompass a large population. So, we are developing approaches to propose to our Government (in areas such Health, Environment or Tourism) with hopes to include Forest Therapy as a common practice
Share 3 of your favourite nature places.
Halong Bay in Vietnam- this place makes you notice the strength of the dragon.
The third one is a forest in my small country, Catalonia. Over the years it has become an idealized forest: A forest that in time grew in my imagination and was rooted in my heart. This is the forest where I really grew up andwhere I spent hours and hours just wondering, discovering, noticing.
Do you have an animal spirit? If so, would you like to share your story?
her forest therapy website, shinrin-yoku-walks.com, will launch in August 2016.
Alex Gesse is a Forest Therapy guide in training with ANFT. He lives and walks between Barcelona and Lisbon. He is a nature enthusiast and truly believer that the forest has ability to provide welfare. One of his passions is working with organizations and companies in wellness programs linked to nature. He is co-founder with Maria do Carmo Stilwell of Shinrin-Yoku Barcelona & Shinrin-Yoku Portugal. You can find more on: http://shinrin-yoku.pt/.
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