Urban forest bathing: a city movement—nationwide

Forest Bathing; a practice that at its core is about connecting people with nature, is one that resonates with us here at Nature Sacred — which is why we are joining with the Mt. Washington Preservation and Trust this coming Sunday to host a free, guided Forest Bathing experience at the Mt Washington Arboretum—home of one of our network Sacred Places— in Baltimore.

More than a walk in nature, the practice — which originated in Japan — is a blend of mindfulness and nature immersion and involves taking in the forest with all of one’s senses, slowly and intentionally. Sunday’s walk will be led by Tamberly Conway, an Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guide in Training; Tamberly will be assisted by several local guides, certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs.

The role of the guide is to help “help you be here, not there”, according to Amos Clifford, a former wilderness guide and founder of ANFT. A trained guide can help one tune into the smells, textures, tastes and sights of the forest; the guide opens the door to nature’s therapy.

The impact of nature on health has been documented by scientists time and again. Reduced blood pressure, increased immunity, and stress reduction are among the known benefits that are linked to a reduction in chronic disease. In addition, research also reveals increased levels of self-awareness and social engagement and a deeper connection to the land, which increases care and concern for nature and an increased land ethic.

When Preparing to Forest Bathe

  • Dress for the weather. Forest Bathing is an activity suitable for all kinds of weather, including when its raining and/ or cold. If this is the case – you should simply dress to ensure that you remain dry and warm. As Forest Bathing is not a heat-generating activity, dress more warmly than you think you need to and in layers; you can always shed your jacket if needed.
  • Bring a raincoat or poncho in case of rain.
  • Bring a blanket or mat to sit on.
  • Bring water in a reusable bottle to stay hydrated.

A Nationwide Event: National Park Rx Day

While this particular event is taking place in Baltimore, it’s part of a larger, national celebration. Sunday April 28 marks National Park Rx Day—an “annual celebration of the Parks Prescription Movement”. Communities all across the country are planning events and activities throughout the day—where participants will be sharing their #BeforeParkRx and #AfterParkRx pictures, stories and voices to raise awareness of this exciting movement.

For more details – and to sign up for Sunday’s event: see the official evite.

A Bonus Post-Bathe Event

Following Sunday’s Nature Walk, a second activity called the @CityNatureChallenge – a competition that invites “citizen scientists” worldwide to identify and gather species of plants and wildlife. Baltimore is one of 150 cities internationally that will be participating in Sunday’s challenge; the city that identifies the greatest number of species will win.

Those interested in participating must first download the iNaturalist.org app on their smart phone or table – then use the application to document the data they gather on the flora and fauna at the Arboretum. Data gathered will be used to support scientific efforts worldwide. There is no fee to participate in the challenge. For more City Nature Challenge information for Baltimore, visit https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2019-baltimore.

Have questions about either of these events? Contact Sunday’s Forest Bathing Guide:

Tamberly Conway
337-304-5872 (call or text)