Immersing in forest calm
“The forest is the therapist”, says Belinda Rowland when introducing her Forest Bathing groups to a mindful nature experience in the Ancient Empire Walk within Walpole’s famed Valley of the Giants.
“Quietly acknowledge everything the forest gives you – the invitations of bird song, gratitude for the signs of the forest Quokka. The tingle trees for their age and beauty. The wildflowers for their colour and the leaf litter for its shapes and recycling.”
Inspired by the Shinto reverence (indigenous belief system) for nature, Japanese government-backed research in the 1980s looked at measurable health benefits of walking in the forest. A formal therapy was called Shinrin-Yoku (forest bathing). Already widely popular in Japan, Europe, UK and the USA, it’s becoming increasingly popular in Australia, including here in WA.
Belinda, who works for DBCA as an Eco Tour Guide, has a commerce degree major in tourism, has completed a mental first aid course and is continuing her studies to further develop her knowledge in tourism and business processes.
“Forest bathing enhances well-being and connection with nature by being present with all our senses”, Belinda explains.
“It’s an eco-antidote to tech-boom burnout – a practice of mindfulness leading people on sensory walks to gain increased benefit from being in nature, to slow down, reduce stress and connect themselves with nature.
“In a calm and relaxing environment, it is a simple yet powerful form of ecotherapy that also improves mood, focus and energy.”
A short and easy walk on a section of the Bibbulmun Track is another option for the Forest Bathing tours with Belinda as your guide. Tree Top Walk has a range of activities during the school holidays which change seasonally. For more information, visit Tree Top Walk here.