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"Nature is imagination itself"
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT?
Rather than telling you what I think the session will be like for you, better that you hear it from someone who's been and tried it - and even better still - someone who didn't know anything about it in the first place! The huge benefits and growing importance of connecting with nature has started to become mainstream, so try to overcome any preconceived ideas of tree-hugging and just come along and try it for yourself. As journalist Olivier Guiberteau recently wrote, he realised that Shinrin-yoku had begun to “nurture a link I hadn’t even realized needed repair”.
When my friend suggested we go Forest Bathing one Saturday morning, I admit I had no idea what that was. Thoughts of hippies hugging trees popped into my head, and actually, if the past ‘plugged-in’ year working from home was anything to go - I thought I for one could benefit from getting back to nature, whatever that entailed.
But forest bathing is so much more - it’s a modern form of preventative medicine developed in Japan in the 1980s to address the rise in burnout and depression among Japanese executives. The morning promised to be grounded in science rather than folklore!
So I decided to leave my worries in the car park and ventured on this mini adventure through a still and dappled forest with Justine as our wise and wonderful guide. I don’t want to spoil any surprises for the uninitiated, but the experience was holistic and enriching. I left feeling reconnected with a sense of contentment and renewed optimism that had faded during the craziness of the past year.
Thank you, Justine, for introducing me to forest therapy - nature’s gift to us all. Mandy Cooper - Nower Woods
I had a visit recently from a journalist from my local newspaper, the Caterham Independent. Here's what Rosalind had to say about her experience with Shinrin-yoku, as well as my other passion, breathwork:
"First off, it was Conscious Connected Breathing...
In the tranquility of her cosy Garden Room, which she uses for her breathwork sessions, Justine Clement explains to me that conscious connected breathing has an abundance of physiological and emotional benefits, including lowering blood pressure, boosting the immune system, aiding sleep, reducing anxiety and much more.
The 40-minute exercise Justine then takes me through demonstrates just what a difference this breathing technique can make. I am revitalised: my blood is practically fizzing its way through my veins, reeling from the huge kick of oxygen I’ve provided it with.
Justine, who lives in Caterham, has been practising breathwork for 15 years and appreciates the improvement it has made to her health:
“I’ve not been ill since starting regular sessions and, although moments of stress are inevitable in life, I bounce back from them much more quickly than I could before.”
Then it was time for a little Shinrin-yoku...
Breathwork is just one part of Justine’s wellbeing toolbox: she is also a skilled practitioner of forest bathing, through her business Wonderwoods. It’s well-known that connection to the natural world is crucial to our quality of life, but it’s something many people have now lost touch with. Shinrin-yoku (literally ‘bathing in the forest’) emerged in Japan in the 1980s as a way to reconnect city dwellers with both nature and themselves.
Justine and I spend a blissful, sun-filled afternoon in the ancient Great Church Wood, Woldingham. She guides me along our chosen path with gentle suggestions that invoke my senses, and allow me to notice the smallest details around me in a way I’ve never done before. Again, the health benefits of spending time among trees are plentiful, and the whole experience makes me immensely grateful for the beautiful woodlands we are blessed with in this part of Surrey.
Justine’s aim is to help those struggling with stress, anxiety and health issues:
“I want to equip people with the tools to cope with that, as well as boost their immunity. Breathwork, along with reconnecting with nature through shinrin-yoku, is a great way to do that.”
A friend and I spent a beautiful afternoon with Justine in Nower Woods. We got in touch with the amazing world around us and in so doing, got in touch with ourselves. We were reminded of how slowing down brings everything to life and the world becomes more meaningful as you bring back the inquisitive child to explore and play. A very deep seated relaxation took hold and lasted for many days after the session. If I could recommend only one thing for peace, for clearer thought, for wonderment – it would be forest bathing. And at the end of our lovely time, we drank some forest tea which was a delicious way to end a very special afternoon.
Lisa Goldblatt, April 23
Spending an afternoon with Justine in beautiful Nower Wood was a wonderful experience. I loved everything about it, from the moments of ritual to slowing right down and seeing the beauty in everything around me. Gazing into the canopy as the wind stirred the branches was mesmerising and the delicious hawthorn tea was a perfect end to the day. I went home more relaxed than I can remember being in ages and slept like a log!
Charlotte Eimer, May 23
Thank you so much for Saturday. We had an amazing time. I am grateful to be able to spend time with my daughter doing things that we both love. Nower Wood is such a beautiful place, more so because it is has less human footfall than many places.
Thank you for guiding and inspiring us.
I made woodland tea but it wasn't as tasty as yours so I will keep experimenting!
Sally Franklin, Oct 23
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