Most of our content and programming focuses on the healing potentials of forests and green spaces. This focus is necessary given the rapid pace at which deforestation and urbanization of grasslands, marshes, and habitable land (read 'green space') is occurring. Yet for this rendition of the blog, I invite the readers to zoom outward and to take notice of the planet which is home to the forests and natural beauty. When looking at our beautiful home, one cannot help but feel kindred to the Blue Planet- Earth. It is on this floating blue orb that all of Life as we know it exists, and it is this blue orb which provides and sustains all this life. In this week's blog post, I take you on a exploratory journey of all the ways in which Earth and nature provides for human-kind, and leave us with an inquiry as to how to be leaders in maintaining balance so that we, as humans, will remain a part of the ever-evolving biosphere.
Plants are all around us. They live in our homes, grow from the cracks in the sidewalk, and populate the free spaces not occupied by asphalt and pavement. They are like the silent allies for us on this planet, and most of the time they go unnoticed. Plants are also the ones who line the trails through countrysides walked by generations of people; the paths pilgrims took to reach their sacred destinations. In this week's blog, guest writer Lora Krall tells of her journey on a hiking tour along the pathways taken by sacred pilgrims in Wales, and the unique connection experienced with the plants along the trail. This piece invites readers to notice the similarities among plants and people, and how this synonymity is what lends to our innate connection. May this piece broaden your perspective of the ever-mysterious plant kingdom.
The practice of Shinrin-Yoku, or Forest Bathing, centers around the concept of 'slowing down'. Health benefits such as a reduction in cortisol levels, increase in parasympathetic nervous response, and increase in immune function have all been cited as benefits of spending time in nature and the forest. However, these are only benefits found on the physical level. What about the deeper levels of human experience: the mental, emotional and even spiritual aspects of being a Being on this planet Earth? These sorts of philosophical inquiries naturally arise as one sinks deeper into the practice of nature-connection, and one that Certified Guide and Trainer Ben Page explores in this piece. What happens when we remove all the 'benefits', 'indicators' and 'measurements' from Forest Therapy and make space for something more simple to emerge- the pleasure of simply witnessing the world around you? What happens when you begin to inquire, "What am I noticing"? The answers which arise just may surprise you.
Sit Spot is one of our favorite invitations in Nature and Forest Therapy. It is not often that we are given time and space to simply sit on the Earth and just BE with whatever feels good to us. In our rush-rush-rush world, the practice of Sit Spot is like a nugget of gold for our tired hearts and souls. For those who want to dive deeper into the practice of Sit Spot, guest writer Jessica Collins provides a beautiful meditative practice to engage in while sitting. This meditation brings one's awareness to the elements- the primordial building blocks of all that we see around us. Deepening our experience and placing out attention on the elements during Sit Spot is a way to expand one's capacity to connect to Earth in a manner not normally presented in modern life. We invite you to practice this meditation and to begin to notice how the elements shows up in your everyday life.
Sometimes words don't do nature justice. Photography is a wonderful way o capture the beauty of nature, yet even then, sometimes the nuanced details of the magic of nature can get lost behind the lens. In this week's blog, Certified Guide Suzi Minor offers us a compilation of her artistic photography of the beautiful desert of Arizona. This piece is less written content and more visual eye-candy. We hope you enjoy the beautiful photos.
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.
Blog pieces are written by ANFT Writers, guest contributors, and introduced by Blog Editor Denell Nawrocki. Submissions may be emailed to Denell at ANFTsubmissions@gmail.com for consideration.