On 20th July 2021, I ran my first Summer Forest Bathing Experience. It was a scorching hot summer day, and the 2 hours we spent amongst the trees were a cooling physical and soul balm.
One of the participants, Christine, was so impacted by her experience that she wrote this blog all about it.
On Tuesday 20th July I joined Kate for a Forest Bathing experience. I arrived hot and bothered and late! Not a good start. However the other two participants and Kate had patiently waited for me to arrive.
Introductions over, the four of us started to wander slowly through the woodland paying attention to anything that impinged on our senses. Immediately I felt calmer. The drama of arrival fell away as the dappled light, so reminiscent of a Renoir painting, filtered through the tree canopy.
The day was already hot by 10am but under the living umbrella of tree branches the air was cooler and more refreshing.
During our gentle wander through the woods Kate talked quietly about aspects of the wood and drew our attention to things we would otherwise have missed. Her tone was quiet. Respectful of the wood as we eased ourselves into the immersive experience which is forest bathing.
Quite soon we came across a glade that Kate had set up for us as a space to sit and reflect. It was magical. Just off the path yet private, inviting and calm. We sat on the ground and Kate told us about woodlands.
The way Kate described the woods to us made them come alive in a way I had never experienced before. Kate’s love of nature, especially woodland, is evident. Her knowledge alone would be worth the time spent with her in the woods, but the knowledge is born from a respect and love and connection to the woodland and is imparted like a gift from nature herself. I knew in an intellectual way some of what Kate told us but through her I experienced that knowledge. The woods came alive in a way that I find hard to describe.
We then had about twenty minutes to walk on our own through the woods wherever we felt drawn to walk. I didn’t go far because I felt a connection with the trees surrounding the glade. It is hard to describe the feeling of being so connected to the trees. Touching their leaves was like holding hands with a friend. I ‘knew’ the trees in a new way.
After twenty minutes Kate played a drum to call us back together again. Back at the glade Kate had brought out flasks of hot water to make tea from herbs harvested from her own patio garden. She had also made some vegan treats for us to eat. I don’t like picnics as a rule. This was something else. I felt nurtured by Kate and part of the woods as we ate and drank.
We listened as Kate drummed and sang to us.
We wrote down what we wanted to on little notepads Kate had made for us, with pencils she had brought for us. All inside little paper goody bags with a sachet of bath salts Kate had made for us. She also gave each of us a pot of balm she had made.
We sat and talked and pulled an earth card from a pack of cards.
All too soon it was time to go. We thanked the wood for hosting us in our forest bathing experience then we collected up all the stuff Kate had brought with her and between us we carried it back to the entrance to the wood. No-one would know we had been in the glade, which is as it should be.
Three days on I can still transport myself back to the wood and relive the experience.
We talked about how good it would be to have other forest bathing sessions as the seasons change. I saw on Kate’s Facebook page that she has organised another session for 10am on Thursday 21st October. I couldn’t book my place fast enough! There will be a limit of six people which I think is ideal to experience the intimate nature of forest bathing. I believe Kate is also contemplating a six-week course of forest meditations starting in September. As soon as the details are released, I will be signing up for that too.
I have been deeply affected by my experience. I think it is because Kate had put such a lot of thought and effort into letting the woods speak to us the way they obviously speak to her, without imposing her experience on us. She gently and lovingly guided us so that we could have our own unique experience of the woods. For that I am most grateful to her.