Farm and Forest Edition — Invites!

  1. Farm Invite — more details/ save the date
  2. A mindfulness walk in the woods with myself and my new friend Zach: you’re invited!
  1. This is a reminder to Save the Date for June 22nd activities to celebrate the Summer Solstice and light a traditional St John’s Day Bonfire at Pleroma Farm in Hudson, NY. Come see the Healing activities taking shape. Tour the grounds with us. See the project just underway to cultivate medicinal plants. Learn about the bees by visiting our many hives with knowledgeable beekeepers! Learn about the mission of the nonprofit we have founded. 3:30pm, tour begins. More details to follow.
  1. Forest Bathing: An Invitation

My new friend Zach studies the nourishment of being in the forest. He wants to share this with the world and has offered to share it with you. Zach and I walked and talked last week, and he told me about his training with Forest Bathing and the phenomenon of phytoncides.

Phytoncides are essential oils from plants and trees which help protect the plants from pests. In an amazing symbiotic way, however, phytoncides nourish humans deeply.

“When humans breathe phytoncides in, they can produce many fabulous benefits inside the body. Some of the responses discovered by science include:

  • Immune response: a 2-hour walk in the forest increases NK cell activity that can last for days
  • Anti-inflammatory: common forest terpenes temper inflammation and reduce oxidative stress
  • Nervous system: forest air creates a relaxation response and lowers nervous system activity
  • Mood enhancing: exposure to forest air reduces cortisol levels and β-pinene has antidepressive properties
  • Sleep: phytoncides like α-pinene enhance sleep
  • Blood glucose: exposure to VOCs can reduce blood glucose levels.”

There was a time we used to spend the vast majority of our time outside. That’s now reversed. Did you know our indoor spaces are pretty toxic?

Experts estimate indoor spaces to be many times more toxic than the outdoors. Why?

  • Off-gassing building supplies
  • Chemical cleaning supplies
  • Unnatural lighting
  • Hygiene products and perfumes
  • Mold, dust
  • Media 
  • Snack drawers containing ultra-processed foods 

Being mindful of the things on the list above that you can control is a good step. Another is to schedule regular time in the woods! Maybe it’s a prescription from your doctor: one Forest Bath per season!

Zach leads small groups of 8–10 people into the woods and guides them in a mindfulness practice in smelling, seeing, noticing, and overall opening up to the forest.

What starts to become apparent is that being in the woods is one thing, but it’s something else altogether when you’re in the woods mindfully.

Want to join Zach and me for a Forest Bathing session in the woods? Let’s get a group together and experience it.

What is Forest Bathing exactly?

“Forest Bathing, or Shinrin Yoku, is centered around opening oneself to the healing power of the Natural World — it involves a deeply immersive and guided forest experience designed to help participants slow down and open to a state of true receptivity to the world around us. By rooting in slowness, receptivity, openness, and mindfulness, Forest Bathing allows people to go deeper in their awareness of and connection to the Natural World and, through that, deepen the healing that can come from their time in the Forest. 

This practice started in Japan in the 1980s as a way to address widespread physical and mental health epidemics. The Japanese government saw that many people were suffering from physical ailments and psychological challenges that correlated to longer work days and more time spent in offices, so decided to study Forest Bathing as an antidote to this downward trend in health. The results of these inquiries were astounding! Studies have shown that Forest Bathing helps lower stress and anxiety, strengthen immune function, improve cardiovascular and metabolic health, and boost overall well-being. These benefits arise both immediately during a Forest Bathing session, and also build over time with repeated exposure and work with this practice.”

What to expect:

This guided experience will last about two hours. It will consist of a welcome circle, grounding exercises, a series of interactive invitations, and a closing circle, as well as periodic opportunities for group sharing. This experience is deeply personal and encourages an intimacy with the forest that is nourishing and specific to each participant. As we will be moving very slowly and mindfully, we will likely not travel more than a ½ mile and people of all fitness levels and bodily conditions are welcome to join. Please bring weather-appropriate clothing and an open mind!

About the Guide:

Zach Rissman will be guiding this experience. As a certified Forest Bathing Guide, he leads deep, immersive experiences for groups and individuals. His approach encourages participants to safely open themselves to the power of Nature and its beauty and wonder. He guides with love, compassion, confidence, grace, and playfulness. His intention is to create space for participants to connect more deeply with themselves, each other, and the world around them and awaken to the beauty and healing power of the Natural World. He is also a trained Heart-Based Meditation Teacher and Spiritual Mentor and is certified in Mental Health First Aid and Wilderness First Aid. Please feel free to reach out with any questions! He can be reached by phone at 908-370-6694 or by email at backtotheheart106@gmail.com.

Suggested donation is $30–60/person for the two-hour experience. Cash, check, and Venmo are accepted.

When?

Zach puts groups together regularly. He would love to hear from you if you want more information. He and I thought it would be fun to schedule a session for the bulletin audience for later this month. Friday, 6/28 from 4–6pm is the date that will work for the two of us to attend. Let either of us know if you’d like to join us. We will meet at a nearby public walk and experience the forest together mindfully! If that’s not medicine, I don’t know what is!