A beginner’s guide to forest bathing

Scenic forest of fresh green deciduous trees framed by leaves, with the sun casting its warm rays th

The Japanese created a very popular therapy called Shinrin-yoku – literally translated as Forest Bathing - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

‘When I tell people I am a forest bathing guide,’ says Sharon Dunscombe, ‘the first question is usually “do I spend my time in a bathtub, deep in the forest?” The answer is no, but it does sound like a good idea!’ 

Sharon’s journey into forest bathing started subconsciously many decades ago while out walking the ancient forests around her, ‘deeply connecting with nature and making it part of who I am.’ 

In 1980, the Japanese created a very popular therapy called Shinrin-yoku – literally translated as Forest Bathing.  

‘I began to take an interest and read as much as I could on the subject,’ continues Sharon, ‘which in those days was scarce. With no internet available to me, I was reliant on books. 

Forest bathing guide Sharon Dunscombe

Forest bathing guide Sharon Dunscombe - Credit: forestmind.uk

Fast forward to a few years ago, and forest bathing was proving to be of interest to many people over the world.  

‘It was easier to research and study the subject,’ she says, ‘and so I have slowly worked towards my accreditation as a trained forest bathing guide with the International Mindfulness and Meditation Alliance. I am also studying with the University of Derby on the subject of Nature Connectedness, learning about the current challenges of global warming, physical connections with nature and our cultural need for a new relationship with nature. 

‘With the constant use of technology, we are forgetting how to mindfully connect with those around us. My guided forest bathing sessions allow space to find and connect our shared emotions in a natural and sensory way 

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Sharon’s two-hour sessions are held in forests and woodland around the Cotswolds, but most of her work is run from the glorious Wolford Wood, near Moreton-in-Marsh.  

Forest bathing guide Sharon Dunscombe

Sharon Dunscombe: 'Forest bathing sessions involve gentle mindful walking, poetry reading and several sensory-based tasks to discover peace in nature' - Credit: forestmind.uk

‘These sessions involve immersing all your senses into the calming atmosphere of the forest,’ says Sharon, ‘until you feel completely refreshed, rejuvenated and reconnected. They involve gentle mindful walking, poetry reading and several sensory-based tasks to discover peace in nature. 

‘Forest bathing is now recognised as an evidence-based natural therapy which helps to rebalance both mental and physical wellbeing, and I love that I am part of it.’ 

For further details, email Sharon at sharon@forestmind.uk or visit forestmind.uk
Wolford Wood's website: wolfordwood.com

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