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lodge-based Forest bathing in BC

Farewell Harbour Lodge is one of the first lodges in Canada to feature fully certified, professional Forest Therapy guides in support of our Forest Bathing program. We believe Forest Bathing can be a powerful balm to our over-stretched, overly digital lives and we offer it as an option on all of our package programs. 

What is Forest Bathing?


When I ask some of our guests at the lodge if they want to try Forest Bathing I can almost see their brain at work trying to imagine what it is they are about to experience. Let's face it,  some are no doubt imagining a bathtub or some kind of clothing optional experience! Erase those images from your mind!  Nothing could be further from reality.

At its simplest, Forest Bathing is about immersing yourself in the forest environment and slowing down long enough to activate all of your senses and take in (bathe in) all of the experiences that the forest can offer you. When we slow down in the natural world, a whole host of sensations become available to us. Our eyes, ears, nose and sense of touch all become much more highly acute and become open to the rejuvenative forces of the trees and forest around us. The rejuvenative forces of trees are now seeing high level, rigourous academic study around the world with indisputable therapeutic benefits for humans. So aside from the simple sensorial pleasures that the forest can offer, humans can experience well-documented health effects.

Forest Bathing comes to us from Japan where it is called Shinrin-yoku. The term is not easily translated into English but it alludes to the sensations that surround you when you experience a connectedness to the forest environment. In North America, the pre-eminent certifying body for Forest Bathing is the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT). ANFT, and its founder, Amos Clifford, have really put forest bathing on the map here in North America and around the world. ANFT, in fact, prefers the term Forest Therapy.  Again, for some, the word 'Therapy' can conjure up misleading images.  However, Forest Therapy begins with the assumption that simply being in the forest with mindfulness and and open senses can be healing and restorative. If we don't want to get too hung up on definitions we can consider forest bathing, forest therapy and Shinrin-yoku to be essentially the same thing: immersing yourself in the forest surrounded by trees and nature with an open, relaxed mind and fully activated senses.  

What does a Forest Bathing Guide do?

If Forest Bathing is about simply being in the forest, why do you need a guide? This question reminds me of my nephew Josh many years ago who, as a very young boy, responded to me when I asked him if he wanted to go rock climbing. He responded with a quizzical look saying that he rock climbs all the time on the rocks outside his home. Of course you don't need a guide for forest bathing. The benefits of the natural world are available to anyone who can convey themselves into a forest and slow themselves down.

However, our professionally trained and certified Forest Bathing guides have dedicated 6 months of their lives to the certification process learning how to facilitate the forest bathing experience in a very powerful way. The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy has developed a very sophisticated and profound framework of theory, philosophy and skills that train guides how to help participants move through a forest landscape with intention, with mindfulness and with activated senses. We also offer our Forest Bathing experiences in the very special ancient coastal rainforests of British Columbia including right here on Berry Island, the 300 acre protected and presently uninhabited island on which the lodge is located (although we humbly acknowledge that Berry Island does have a long and rich Indigenous history of use and habitation by the Mamalilikulla First Nation). Our Forest Bathing sessions typically last 2-3 hours, involve no strenuous exertion and integrate a series of experiential invitations (activities) to heighten and activate all of your senses to the forest environment around you. Guests, even those who initially felt somewhat skeptical, always come back refreshed and recharged!

If you'd like to learn more about the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy check out their website. If you'd like to learn more about the growing scientific body of therapeutic benefits there are ample web resources including this one. If you'd like to learn more about Forest Bathing at Farewell Harbour Lodge, give Kelli a call. She is our resident (and certified) Forest Bathing expert! 

-- By Tim McGrady



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