Large hands holding a wet, rust-colored maple leaf with a bright green cedar sprig and a bright green fir sprig laid over the top.
photo: Leigha Horton

ABOUT FOREST BATHING

Forest Bathing is a slow-moving, deeply sensory, mindful and bodyful walk in Nature that has shown to result in measurable physiological, cognitive, and emotional benefits.   Much like walking meditation or yoga, these activities can be practiced on one’s own, almost anywhere, and yet the benefits greatly increase with regular practice. And much like meditation or yoga, the experience can be significantly more immersive when facilitated by properly trained and certified guides.

A woman facing a giant redwood tree, standing very close to it, with hands placed upon the tree's trunk.
photo: Claire Horton

The term shinrin-yoku was coined in the 1980s by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries and translates to “Forest Bathing” or “taking in the forest with all of one’s senses.” Much like sunbathers intentionally soak in the benefits of the sun, forest bathers intentionally soak in the benefits of the forest.  The formal establishment of shinrin-yoku in the 1980s as a wellness practice was a direct response to a national health epidemic; one caused at least in part by the steady increase of time spent working and recreating indoors, disconnected from Nature.  

The past 40 years of rigorous Japanese government-sanctioned study, insights from continuing studies in Korea, Scotland, Finland, and ancient wild-tending methods and relational attention practiced for millennia by indigenous peoples worldwide, have informed the establishment and ethos of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs (ANFT) based in the United States.  Your Silvae Spiritus Guides are proud to have studied with and earned full Certification from ANFT.

OUR APPROACH TO GUIDING FOREST BATHING

A smooth, grey stone, topped with three very small stones in a row: grey, light green, and white. The stones rest upon a bed of moss, next to a river.
photo: Leigha Horton

Restoring right relation with Nature; reconnecting us to ourselves, each other, and our living planet.

-Leigha Horton & Travis Norman, Silvae Spiritus co-founders

Forest Bathing, also known as Nature and Forest Therapy, or shinrin-yoku, is a different kind of immersion in nature than you may have experienced in the past. Our Minnesota Forest Bathing walks are not fitness hikes, they are not naturalist-led point-and-name tours, nor are they nature-based psychotherapy sessions. Instead, our expert-guided walks are much like a surprisingly-effortless meditation achieved through tactile attention to, and thus connection with, Nature. We guide invitations – suggested ways to connect with your surroundings at any given time – that are crafted to awaken your senses, encourage you to take in nature at a much slower pace than you’re probably accustomed to, enliven a more conscious connection with the inherent healing properties of nature, and provide and receive reciprocal healing attention with the Nature around and within you. Our walks generally span two or three hours (each walk has its own designated duration, which is adhered to), they integrate steps toward repair of our disconnected culture through the facilitation of light sharing circles between silent invitations, they honor each participant’s autonomy, and cover no more than a mile and half over generally flat surfaces.  

Private Forest Bathing Sessions

A guided Forest Bathing session for you and your favorite people (up to 20 participants) at Silvae Spiritus Northwoods Nature Retreat. Silvae Spiritus will coordinate with you to create a bespoke walk for your group – from families to friends to clubs to small non-profit organizations and small businesses.

Private Forest Bathing Sessions are a unique and memorable way to celebrate a special occasion, further deepen your personal relationship with the land, or just unwind and connect with a favorite group of people. We partner with the forest to craft the perfect walk for you and your group’s needs.

$69 per person, 2.5 hour session, flexible scheduling

Public Forest Bathing Sessions

Enjoy Guided Forest Bathing in community. In line with many cultural traditions that honor nature connection, you will share this guided walk with other people in addition to your party. Relax, connect — together.

These walks serve as an intimate introduction to or reconnection with our local, regional, state, and National parks as well as Nature Centers and Arboretums, and foster a sense of community with the walk participants and the more-than-human world.  Our Public Walks follow the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs’ “Standard Sequence,” include specialized invitations tailored to the forest, the group, and the weather conditions, and are open to anyone who would like to register to join.

Price and walk duration vary based on partner organizations – public walks average $30 per person, and usually last two hours

Corporate Forest Bathing Sessions

Our corporate wellness programs are custom-tailored to suit your organization’s needs and preferences, benefiting all of your teams – from the mail room to the Board room. 

Physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being are key to professional performance, and a fundamental ingredient to the health and functionality of any working team.  Silvae Spiritus creates unique experiences that, without ever using the words “team-building,” foster group connectedness and cohesion.  Partnering with the forest, we facilitate meaningful, valuable experiences and reveal tools that can be directly applied to engender a thriving workplace culture:  slowing down, concentration skills, clear and effective communication, creativity and imagination, intuition, and team building.  Together, we will design a program specifically tailored to the needs of your team.

Walk location and duration customizable – pricing varies.

“It is when we connect to nature with all our senses that the magic happens and our lives can be transformed. Immersed in the natural world, we can experience the miracle of life and connect to something larger than ourselves. Nature takes our breath away and breathes new life into us.”

DR. QING LI, FOREST BATHING: HOW TREES CAN HELP YOU FIND HEALTH AND HAPPINESS

Health Benefits

Hand holding a stone covered in moss.
photo: Leigha Horton

Physiological benefits include:

  • Boosted immune system
  • Decrease in stress hormones
  • Regulation of blood pressure
  • Enhances activity of anti-cancer proteins
  • Increases parasympathetic (rest & restore) nervous system
  • Improves respiratory functions
  • Improves cardiovascular functions
  • Improvement of sleep quality
The black-and-white silhouette of a large oak tree against the sunset. Light rays pass through the branches and reach into the sky.
photo: Leigha Horton

Psychological benefits include:

  • Stress reduction
  • Easing of depression
  • Improved mood / overall sense of wellbeing
  • Improved sleep
  • Accelerates attention fatigue recovery
  • Decrease in rumination
  • Heightened sense of community
  • Enhanced empathy

Want to take a deep-dive into the scientific evidence behind the experience? We’ve known for centuries that time in nature makes us feel good, emerging data is starting to help us understand why: explore further in this research study published in the National Library of Medicine.

What to expect

A small teacup filled with tea in the foreground, several more teacups and a teapot in the background. The setup is outside, and lush greenery surrounds the scene.
photo: Leigha Horton

Whether you’re new to the practice or an experienced enthusiast, and whether the totality of your experience with nature is a houseplant or you’re a lifelong wilderness backpacker, we believe that nature is for everyone and all are welcome on our walks.

Upon arrival, you will be greeted by one of our experienced guides, checked-in, given the opportunity to take a bio-break and attend to any self-care you need to ensure you’re comfortable for the walk.

You will then be expertly guided through a series of invitations specially-crafted to help you tap into each of your senses, including your sense of connection.

Each walk concludes with light refreshments.

Note: The health & safety of our guests is our top priority. Severe weather (lightning, tornado warnings and watches, standing or windchill temperatures lower than 20°F) will be rescheduled. Please visit Our Response to Covid-19 for more information about our efforts to ensure a safe and healthful experience for everyone.

How to prepare

A light tan maple leaf nestled in the grass, spotted with large raindrops reflecting the light.
photo: Leigha Horton

* Give yourself the gift of spaciousness: plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to the start of the walk to park, walk to the location trailhead, use the restroom, etc. to ensure the walk can begin on time.

* Bring a water bottle to stay hydrated for the duration of the walk.

* Dress in layers, warmer than you think you’ll need. Since we’ll be moving very slowly, you won’t be able to rely on body heat to keep you warm.

* Prepare for the weather and environmental conditions appropriate to each season. For example: sunscreen and bug spray in the warm months, a raincoat if rain is in the forecast (we still walk in the rain, as we find it heightens the senses).

“The word ecology is derived from the Greek oikos, the word for home.” 

— DR. ROBIN WALL KIMMERER
BRAIDING SWEETGRASS: INDIGENOUS WISDOM, SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE, AND THE TEACHINGS OF PLANTS