There are moments and experiences in our lives which impact us in ways that do not become clear until days, months or even years later. Whether that be something our parent's said to us as a child, an assignment given by a teacher in school, or the slow step-by-step expansion of our own internal awareness, these moments shape us into who we are today, and guide us to where we end up. In this poetic piece, Forest Therapy Guide and Trainer Ben 'Crow' Page shares with us the moments in his life which brought him to the work of Forest Therapy. Written in the language of remembrance, Page offers us insight into the small moments which lead him to be on the path he currently finds himself on. We hope this piece inspires reflection of your own interest in forests and to remember those small moment which brought you here, reading this.
Living in a dense urban population can make it difficult to practice connecting to nature. Concrete, cars, and humans dominate the landscape in cities, and opportunities to drop into the senses and explore relationship with the more-than-human-world may seem far-fetched. However, they are not impossible. In fact, opportunities arise daily for city-dwellers, yet most often they go unnoticed. Forest Therapy Guide Bibi Calderaro shares with us her story of connection while deep in the New York urban jungle. May this story encourage all the readers who are city-dwellers to find moments of relation such as this one, and to recognize that opportunity to connect with the natural can be found in even the most human-dominant places.
For many of us at ANFT, we feel a deep, innate sense of love and connection to trees- that is why we are in this work. But have you ever wondered where this deep love comes from? Is there clues in our ancestral past which point to this connection? Is there more to our love than just our personal experiencing with trees and the forest? Forest Therapy Guide and ANFT Staff member Denell Nawrocki answers some of these questions. Prompted for an Indigenous Medicine class for her graduate school program, Denell uncovered her ancestral connection to her love of trees and dove deep into historical connection of this reverence. We hope you find this piece intriguing and inspires you to dive into your own ancestral connection to your love of trees and nature.
The beginning of Spring is only days away for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. Although we are grateful for the return of the light and warmth, we like to reflect on the Winter season and notice the unique offerings it brings to those of us who spend time in the forest. In this weeks piece, Forest Therapy Guide Robin Hancock shares with us her touching story of how the Winterized forest held her through the grief process and through which emerged a new found appreciation and admiration of the Winter season. We hope this piece stirs your heart as it did ours, and supports you in your journey of appreciation for the darkest season of all.
There are only a couple of short weeks left until we can officially call it 'Spring' here at the ANFT headquarters in California. We have had a wet, wet winter, yet we are noticing the signs of warmth just around the corner: mainly, new buds emerging from the trees. This new grow has led us to notice the trees more as they spring back into life from hibernation. On our daily office walks around the neighborhood, we have been in inquiry about connecting with a tree near us, even if it happens to be next to a street or a sidewalk. Guest writer Barry Lee gives us a simple invitation of making the conscious and aware act of befriending a tree, and we further this by inviting you to notice the changes the tree goes through as it moves from its winter-sleep to an awakened and alive state in the Spring (for those in the Northern hemisphere). We hope you enjoy the process of befriending a tree, and also invite you to share you experiences in the comments below. Happy friendship building!
One aspect of Nature and Forest Therapy that we emphasize a lot here at ANFT is the healing which comes from tuning into your senses and opening up the the full sensory experience of being in a forest. We also talk about how there are chemicals in the forest air which when inhaled (regardless of tuning into them or not), supports the human body to heal and regenerate. Guest writer Randy Eady explores this topic and provides a highly interesting and informative piece on just how our Olfactory sense is initiated while in a forest environment. We hope you find this piece as fascinating as we did, and next time you suddenly get that 'forest' smell in your nose, know that it is highly beneficial for your health and well-being.
We love to share stories about our Guides and how they came into this work. Humans are story-telling creatures, and we find great inspiration through sharing the stories of how people find and dive into the work of guiding others into greater connection with the nature and the forest. In this post, Guide Julie Hall interviews Brenda Spitzer, Forest Therapy Guide and Staff Writer here at the Association. Here Spitzer tells the inspiring story of her work with Forest Therapy at Morton Arboretum in Chicago, the art of Botanical Drawing, and a sweet story of how she came to discover her 'Spirit Animal'.
I'm sure for many of us in the Nature and Forest Therapy comunity, we have received the question "Why do I need a guide?". How do you go about answering such a powerful inquiry? Forest Therapy Guide Ben "Crow" Page gives us his reasons why a guide is a potent and powerful vehicle to deepen one's connection with nature and make a strong case for the use of a Forest Therapy Guide. May this piece inspire you to consider how a guide may influence your own connection with nature and the forest.
Here at ANFT we love to hear how our Guides, Guides-in-Training, and applicants came to Forest Therapy. Was it a solo walk in the woods, an experience as a child at summer camp, or a romantic getaway to a far-off land that drew them into this practice and love of nature? Forest Therapy Guide Fran Mills shares with us her passage to Forest Therapy and how the forest called her to this work. We hope this story inspires you to reflect on your own relationship with nature and the journey which lead you to this practice.
Some people may wonder, "If I don't have a Guide, how can I take myself out on a Forest Therapy walk?" As a beautiful follow-up to last week's post (check it out here), Forest Therapy Guide Nadine Mazzola gives us a glimpse of a first-hand experience of a self-guided walk. Nadine explores one of the invitations mentioned last week- 'Notice the Sparkles'- and shares a beautiful story of connecting to the Winter-beauty surrounding her. May Nadine's narrative inspire you to step outside this winter. Happy walking!
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.