Transcript: Episode 5

This tran­script has been edit­ed for clar­i­ty. There may be dif­fer­ences between the audio and this tran­script.

In today’s episode, we explore for­est bathing with Bren­da Mar­tin, a guide trained by the Asso­ci­a­tion of Nature and For­est Ther­a­py. Bren­da empha­sizes that for­est bathing is more than a walk in nature. It’s an immer­sive expe­ri­ence, encour­ag­ing a deep con­nec­tion with the envi­ron­ment. This prac­tice, root­ed in mind­ful­ness, yet is seen as being dif­fer­ent from con­ven­tion­al hik­ing. Bren­da’s approach and phi­los­o­phy under­scores the impor­tance of pres­ence and sen­so­ry engage­ment to ful­ly expe­ri­ence the ther­a­peu­tic aspect of the for­est. Bren­da empha­sizes for­est ther­a­py walks are acces­si­ble to every­one, regard­less of one’s phys­i­cal fit­ness. Bren­da sees her role as facil­i­tat­ing invi­ta­tions for par­tic­i­pants to inter­act with their sur­round­ings, mak­ing it per­son­al and adapt­able expe­ri­ence. Real­ly, the essence of for­est bathing is allow­ing nature to be the ther­a­pist, while Bren­da is mere­ly open­ing doors to per­son­al expe­ri­ences with the nat­ur­al world. Good morn­ing, bren­da. I’m speak­ing with Bren­da Mar­tin today and we’re going to talk about for­est bathing. We’re going to just talk about how it start­ed and how you got into this. I was just won­der­ing if you could explain for our lis­ten­ers what is for­est bathing.

Speak­er 3: 3:01
Sure thing, thanks. Thank you, john, for invit­ing me onto this pod­cast. When I got into for­est bathing I did­n’t even know that name, for­est bathing. I was intro­duced to it because I was tak­ing anoth­er course. It was dur­ing COVID and there were all these online cours­es. Some­body in my ses­sion was men­tion­ing that they were hav­ing train­ing as a for­est ther­a­py guide. I thought, well, that sounds real­ly inter­est­ing. I looked more into that. My train­ing has actu­al­ly been through the Asso­ci­a­tion of Nature and For­est Ther­a­py, which is based in Rinyoku, which is Japan­ese prac­tice. It’s been around since the 80s and is basi­cal­ly trans­lat­ed into for­est bathing. I think some­times when peo­ple hear about for­est bathing, they think you’re going to take all their clothes off and what­ev­er and jump into the leaves. It’s real­ly quite dif­fer­ent from that. The research shows that just spend­ing time in nature is healthy. There’s a lot of research to sup­port that. That is not real­ly my inter­est. My inter­est is more the expe­ri­ence of being in nature when I take some­one on a for­est ther­a­py walk, the whole idea. It’s so con­trary to how most of us live our lives that we’re very goal-ori­ent­ed. We’re in our heads. You’ve got that noisy voice that haunts us some­times and moti­vates us. It’s not a bad thing. Get­ting into for­est bathing or for­est ther­a­py is just a chance to slow down and have a rela­tion­ship with nature. That’s as sim­ple as that. Some­times when peo­ple come into my ses­sions they think it’s going to be a hike. It’s going to be, they have to be real­ly phys­i­cal­ly fit, but it’s not. I love hik­ing, but it’s not a hike. It’s very, very gen­tle I would say a gen­tle stroll. There’s real­ly no goal. Idea of nature and for­est ther­a­py is nature, is the ther­a­pist, the guide, helps open the doors. Your indi­vid­ual expe­ri­ence with nature is what you’re going to get out of the walk.

Speak­er 1: 5:34
Can I just walk you back to the path that you take your clients on, your friends. Is it an estab­lished path? Are you walk­ing through kind of a more pris­tine, in the sense that peo­ple haven’t walked along that aspect of the forests?

Speak­er 3: 5:56
There are so many ways to do a for­est ther­a­py walk. Some peo­ple do it if you’re in an urban area, beside like one tree, so it’s very indi­vid­u­al­ized. For the ones that I do here in south­ern Ontario I have par­tic­u­lar for­est parks. Actu­al­ly these are con­ser­va­tion areas that I feel very con­nect­ed to. So before I do the walk I spend time myself in nature and devel­op that rela­tion­ship as per­mis­sion. The whole idea is that it’s a rela­tion­ship between humans and the more than human world. So when I go into that for­est I kind of get a sense of where I’m going to take that group. So I would nev­er go into a for­est ther­a­py walk with­out first spend­ing quite a bit of time that day because even the for­est changes. Even when I use the same park it’s dif­fer­ent every day. So I don’t go deeply into the for­est and it’s more very acces­si­ble for peo­ple with all kinds of dif­fer­ent phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers. So I real­ly try to make it a very gen­tle invi­ta­tion and if peo­ple want to, they have time with­in that walk to go fur­ther explor­ing. But to be hon­est, in south­ern Ontario you’re not going to get lost in the woods.

Speak­er 1: 7:26
They’re not back here you just have to lis­ten for the near­est road­way, exact­ly and cloth­ing-wise, just before we move on from that. Shoes what do they typ­i­cal­ly dress? Bug spray, I imag­ine would be impor­tant.

Speak­er 3: 7:42
Yeah, I usu­al­ly rec­om­mend that they wear shoes. The place I most like to take peo­ple for the walks is along Lake Erie, so I ask them to wear shoes that they can walk along on the rocks, water­proof long pants, because we also part of being a guide is being aware of any of the haz­ards that might be on the walk, for exam­ple, uneven ground, poi­son, ivy, ticks, what­ev­er might be hap­pen­ing. So it’s part of the guide’s job to make peo­ple aware of maybe mak­ing sure they stay on the paths and stay away from those haz­ards. I’m also trained in Wilder­ness First Aid, so not that I’ve had to use it because I real­ly don’t take peo­ple on treach­er­ous walks at all, but any­thing can hap­pen. So the thing is to keep peo­ple safe, dress for the weath­er in lay­ers. There’s quite a bit of time on a walk where you’re sit­ting and not being very active, so just mak­ing sure you’re going to be com­fort­able. I have those stools that we go out on if peo­ple want to use a stool. The walks are usu­al­ly about two and a half hours, so, yeah, just to be pre­pared for that time, bring along a bot­tle of water, make sure you have your wash­room break ahead of time and that kind of….

Speak­er 1: 9:03
And some snacks, I would imag­ine. Is there any spe­cif­ic tech­niques or prac­tices that a begin­ner needs to work on before they go out with you at all?

Speak­er 3: 9:15
No, they just…. The whole idea of the walk is that it’s absolute­ly for that per­son, it’s their time, it’s their time to take a breath and maybe kind of cross into a lit­tle bit of a thresh­old of some­thing away from their ordi­nary day. So as the guide, I feel that my job is just to hold space. A lot of the walk is about invi­ta­tions. You have invi­ta­tions for the par­tic­i­pants that they can accept or not accept, of ways that they might want to con­nect with the for­est or nature, and then you give them time to go out there and take advan­tage of that invi­ta­tion or not. And then we come back. We have a time of com­ing back and, if they choose to, they can share what they’re expe­ri­enc­ing in that moment or not. So it’s not goal-direct­ed. There’s noth­ing you have to achieve. It’s just real­ly being in the moment and what you get out of that expe­ri­ence is very per­son­al.

Speak­er 1: 10:25
So what type of per­son is drawn to for bathing?

Speak­er 3: 10:31
I don’t think there’s any­one tight. Most­ly it’s peo­ple that have a sense that they real­ly thrive being in nature and don’t feel like they have enough time in nature giv­en their lifestyle, just all their oth­er com­mit­ments they have in life. So it’s usu­al­ly peo­ple that have had either in their child­hood or just have a yearn­ing to recon­nect with nature. So that seems to be the kinds of peo­ple that are attract­ed to it. A lot of the peo­ple that come into my walks are peo­ple that reg­u­lar­ly go out in nature. But they find that the force ther­a­py is dif­fer­ent because it’s very slow and it’s not a hike. And a lot of peo­ple that go out to nature are hik­er and hikes are great. I’ve always been a hik­er, but it’s dif­fer­ent. So, and it’s also just for peo­ple that are search­ing or just inter­est­ed in what it’s all about. And you don’t need a guide to go to force ther­a­py walk. You can def­i­nite­ly do it on your own. But the thing is the guide some­times just helps you to not have to think about it. You can just kind of be in the moment.

Speak­er 1: 11:45
Would you say that some are just miss­ing some­thing in their life and they’re just not sure what it is Like. They’re just search­ing for some spir­i­tu­al con­nec­tion or some kind of awak­en­ing of some sort.

Speak­er 3: 11:58
I’m sure it is, and some­times those things come up as we have our dis­cus­sions after like what they’re expe­ri­enc­ing. Some­times things well up from like a loss, maybe that some­one’s expe­ri­enced, or a per­son, or just they’re always sur­prised by wow. When I saw that tree, it remind­ed me of you know how frag­ile we are or how strong we are. So it’s very, very. It’s kind of part of the mys­tery of what makes the walks so pow­er­ful that you nev­er real­ly know what’s going to come up and some­times peo­ple don’t know ahead of time why they’re drawn to it. I have to say I can’t see peo­ple not enjoy­ing a force ther­a­py walk. It’s just Love­ly, although I have had peo­ple say I don’t like nature, I don’t like bugs, I’m afraid of the woods, and of course they’re not drawn to the walks.

Speak­er 1: 13:03
When you begin your force walk and every­body, I assume, just meets at one loca­tion in the park­ing lot and you con­nect at that point, do you do any­thing for­mal to open up your walk? Click­ing a schemat­ic world would have a cir­cle where we call in our ances­tors or our pro­tec­tive spir­its.

Speak­er 3: 13:24
We def­i­nite­ly the first. Well, first of all, after we’ve come acquaint­ed and you know, give them a lit­tle bit of infor­ma­tion about where we are and the basics about the walk. We take about 20 min­utes to do a. I guess you would call it a ground­ing exer­cise. And again, the whole thing is all about invi­ta­tions.

Speak­er 2: 13:47
My name is Pat Kemp. My first force bath, I think, was in the spring of 2023 and it was at Mor­gan’s Point, ontario. My first impres­sion was that I was just going for a walk. What I became aware of in the first walk, with the guid­ance of Bren­da, who was a guide, was that it’s real­ly impor­tant to be present and to be aware of every­thing that’s going on around you, rather than just strolling through nature, being aware and open to all the sounds, all the smells, all the dif­fer­ent tex­tures, and just being there with those trees and that grass and those skies and that way. I think that hug­ging trees always means the same thing. But I think, when I was encour­aged to actu­al­ly touch and lis­ten to the trees and feel their bark against my cheek, that I real­ized that this is a liv­ing organ­ism that I’m shar­ing this space with, and I had­n’t real­ly thought about that in that way before. I think it con­nect­ed with me in a way that made me real­ize that I have to be very inten­tion­al about my inter­ac­tions and very aware of the impact I’m hav­ing on my sur­round­ings when I’m in this.

Speak­er 3: 15:11
So it’s invit­ing them to engage their sens­es, to con­nect with the land, to remind us of the human and more than human world that have been on this land. So we take about 20 min­utes to just kind of slow down, but there are no par­tic­u­lar because there’s no goal involved. If some­one feels con­nect­ed to an ances­tor, that’s their own expe­ri­ence with the nature. So the invi­ta­tions are more open. They’re very. We’re not guid­ing peo­ple to kind of invite cer­tain beings or ances­tors or any­thing. It’s just sort of let’s slow down and engage our sens­es and then what­ev­er hap­pens from there is between nature and that indi­vid­ual.

Speak­er 1: 16:09
I under­stand you right that there’s no, in a sense no, prim­ing for the pos­si­bil­i­ty of encoun­ter­ing or expe­ri­enc­ing a deep­er aspect of the for­est, like the dif­fer­ent nature spir­its?

Speak­er 3: 16:23
And that is a big part of the train­ing that I had dur­ing my train­ing as a For­est Ther­a­py Guide. And it was hard for peo­ple because we had a lot of peo­ple like myself that have expe­ri­ence in coun­sel­ing and oth­er help­ing pro­fes­sions that are kind of used to oh, you’re real­ly going to, if you let your­self expe­ri­ence this, you could real­ly have a con­nec­tion. But we real­ly had to kind of hold that back and let for­est do its thing. So some peo­ple might not get out of it that day what even would they hoped for and oth­ers are sur­prised by what they do get. So it’s kind of as the guide. It kind of takes the pres­sure off because it’s not. Some­body asked me one time on a walk what are you try­ing to accom­plish? And I said noth­ing. And he said what is the goal of the walk? And I said there is no goal. Oh, oh, I kind of get it, but so I get that’s the sim­plest way to explain it To try to hold space. That’s real­ly, that’s real­ly my job and that’s why it’s eas­i­er to go out on a walk with a guide than going on your own, because hav­ing some­body hold that space for you allows you to real­ly be in one.

Speak­er 1: 17:55
You know, the idea of grief cir­cles is that it pro­vides a con­tain­er for peo­ple to come in and share some­thing deep­er that they would­n’t oth­er­wise, and so that wit­ness­ing aspect of it plays an impor­tant role. Do you think that there’s kind of a wit­ness­ing that takes place when peo­ple come togeth­er and they are just like-mind­ed and they can just be on this walk, but the idea that they’re doing it with oth­ers as opposed to if they were just to go by them­selves?

Speak­er 3: 18:30
Oh yeah, absolute­ly, and I think, as peo­ple share what they’re expe­ri­enc­ing, it often trig­gers some­thing in some­one else and there is a sense of com­mu­ni­ty often not always with the peo­ple on the walk, so and some­times there’s peo­ple that already know each oth­er and are part of a group that come on the walk, and some­times it’s strangers. So it’s kind of mag­i­cal every time it hap­pens, because you just nev­er know what’s going to arise, and that’s the beau­ty of it as well.

Speak­er 1: 19:10
So when you lead them out of the park­ing lot and you’re going down some trail, what would be the typ­i­cal expe­ri­ence? Can you take me on a vir­tu­al walk with you? You don’t have to include lunch.

Speak­er 3: 19:31
It’s real­ly inter­est­ing because a big part of the For­est Ther­a­py walk is about notic­ing. It’s invi­ta­tions about slow­ing down and notic­ing. So part of con­nect­ing with the for­est before I take the peo­ple on the walk is I’m notic­ing things, maybe about light or the damp­ness or what­ev­er is going, the sounds, the birds, what­ev­er. So my invi­ta­tions will reflect what I’ve kind of been notic­ing myself in that for­est. So as you invite peo­ple to maybe notice the light and then off they go, they might feel some­thing. It might be com­plete­ly about their sens­es or it might be some­thing emo­tion­al or it might be a thought or so it’s what­ev­er they’re notic­ing in that moment. So it just opens things up for peo­ple to I think we know what we need. We know what we need. It’s just hav­ing that per­mis­sion and hav­ing the force help us to rec­og­nize what we need in that moment. So I don’t know if that real­ly answers your ques­tion.

Speak­er 1: 20:51
It does. It’s almost. By doing that you’re kind of giv­ing them a choice to either allow some­thing of accept­ing what­ev­er the force of that place has to offer or not. But the impor­tant part is that they allow that an expe­ri­ence. Just to be open to expe­ri­ence, I guess, is real­ly what I’m say­ing.

Speak­er 3: 21:13
Yeah, I think that’s why cre­at­ing a space that feels com­fort­able, where peo­ple feel like it’s okay for them to say what’s on their mind or feel some­thing that’s the whole expe­ri­ence of the walk is that it’s a gen­tle, lov­ing place, and it’s not that the for­est is I’m not being over­ly roman­tic about it here is awe­some in every way. But, to feel in that moment what it is that you need to feel, I guess, or that you allow.

Speak­er 1: 21:55
When they’re walk­ing? Do peo­ple tend to then part­ner up just because they can share with some­body, or does it tend to be still an indi­vid­ual expe­ri­ence through most of it? It’s just like a chain with their links all spread out down the line.

Speak­er 3: 22:10
That’s a great ques­tion and some­thing I had­n’t men­tioned before Real­ly encour­age peo­ple to be on their own and to expe­ri­ence nature in that moment on their own. That being said, these are all invi­ta­tions, so you some­times get bud­dies that haven’t seen each oth­er in a while and I guess they have that need to con­nect in that moment. So it’s designed to be an indi­vid­ual expe­ri­ence nature, but it does­n’t always go that way. Some­times, peo­ple just can’t help it. They just want to chat, chat, chat and that’s okay, at home.

Speak­er 1: 22:46
Do you let them just spread out, Brent? It’s not like a school group, where they’re all hang­ing onto the rope and as you’re mov­ing along.

Speak­er 3: 22:54
No, we have a lit­tle wolf call that I do to bring them back when the time’s over. I try and encour­age them not to rely on their cell phones or timers and every­thing. So we have a lit­tle wolf call that if they hear me, they can wolf call oth­er peo­ple and then they come back. So, yeah, they just kind of off the go. It depends on the invi­ta­tion and it depends on what’s going on in the park or wher­ev­er I’m doing the walk and life hap­pens and some­times there’s a lawn­mow­er going out or con­struc­tion. So that’s all part of the expe­ri­ence and it’s rec­og­niz­ing the humans have impact on the for­est as well and nature. So you’re not try­ing to keep peo­ple away from the real­i­ty of our lives, it’s more. How do we inte­grate that? How do we find some­thing beau­ti­ful in that moment? That’s real­ly the invi­ta­tion. I think it’s like any­thing that you feel like oh, I want to do that again. I want more of that. And nature, espe­cial­ly where we are, I mean it’s very devel­oped. Here. There’s a lot of urban sprawl it’s hard topeo­ple crave. A lot of peo­ple crave being in nature, so I do get quite a few repeat cus­tomers.

Speak­er 1: 24:19
Do you have one favorite walk that sticks out for you? That was just kind of blew you away. The inten­si­ty up or the excite­ment?

Speak­er 3: 24:30
They’re all unique. Prob­a­bly the favorite one I went on was when I was doing my immer­sive for my train­ing. It was in Ver­mont and we actu­al­ly spent a whole day on our own in the for­est and that was pret­ty pow­er­ful. And I think I try in my lit­tle way on my short­er walks to hold that kind of space for peo­ple, because the longer you spend in nature, the more pow­er­ful that rela­tion­ship is. Some­times peo­ple go two and a half hours. I don’t have time for that. It’s like hur­ry up and relax. So I real­ly try not to short­en the walks. But some­times some­body’s not quite ready for two and a half hour walks. I try to do some­thing in an hour.

Speak­er 1: 25:18
So yes, lis­ten­ers who might be lis­ten­ing to this or would be lis­ten­ing to this and for some rea­son, they find that they’re being called to this idea of help­ing oth­ers to find some­thing more by walk­ing in forests, how would they go about becom­ing cer­ti­fied?

Speak­er 3: 25:36
There’s a lot of dif­fer­ent train­ing pro­grams. The one I took is you know it’s online the Asso­ci­a­tion of Nature and For­est Ther­a­py. When I signed up for it, you have a cohort and we would meet online week­ly for six months and there’s dif­fer­ent activ­i­ties as part of the train­ing. The biggest part of the train­ing for the train­ing I took, which I loved it, was life-chang­ing because you real­ly embody these things. It’s not just some­thing in your head, it’s actu­al­ly embrac­ing the whole idea of this invi­ta­tion­al expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing and so, yeah, these things are spring­ing up every­where too. That was where I took my train­ing. And then you do all your exer­cis­es and prac­tice walks, usu­al­ly with friends or col­leagues, to get that cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and write up about it, and it’s quite a bit of work. Actu­al­ly, it was great. And then, after you become cer­ti­fied, you have to do a four-day immer­sive and they’re all over the world, it’s an inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tion and you do a four-day immer­sive and then you get your per­ma­nent cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and all that is real­ly is find­ing your own way, because every­body does their walks in their own way. But one thing we had in com­mon was this whole invi­ta­tion You’re not lead­ing peo­ple to an expe­ri­ence, you’re com­plete­ly trust­ing the for­est and that’s prob­a­bly the over­rid­ing theme in the kind of train­ing I had, and it’s all about rela­tion­ship, rela­tion­ship between a per­son and the for­est.

Speak­er 1: 27:35
Could you expand a lit­tle bit more on the impact that it had on you when you first start­ed the pro­gram?

Speak­er 3: 27:42
I think, as some­body who’s trained in psy­chol­o­gy, as I am, and I’ve done a lot of work in the help­ing fields a big change for me was not feel­ing like I had to help peo­ple, I had to take some own­er­ship of what the out­come was going to be, and it was very free­ing, and it’s actu­al­ly helped me in my day job too, because, as some­one that con­tin­ues to work in that field, just hav­ing faith that the answers that peo­ple are seek­ing are with­in them and it’s just allow­ing, hav­ing the faith that peo­ple will find their way, and if the for­est can help, then that’s great.

Speak­er 1: 28:32
One of our focus­es is on grief. Would you rec­om­mend for­est bathing for peo­ple who are in the midst of grief?

Speak­er 3: 28:40
Absolute­ly, and you know they’re get­ting too philo­soph­i­cal about it. We all car­ry grief with us all the time and I think as a cul­ture we’re afraid of it and some­how some­times watch­ing a tree lose its leaves or what­ev­er can cause a lot of emo­tion from peo­ple that can see them­selves in that tree, shar­ing that expe­ri­ence or what­ev­er. Wher­ev­er you are, you nev­er know how it’s going to affect some­one. So I see for­est ther­a­py, for­est bathing, as a won­der­ful way to just the griev­ing part, for sure, but just to be more whole and let more of our human­i­ty in that we some­times are afraid to share.

Speak­er 1: 29:33
I don’t know if that is too out there to say you think it high­lights the fact that we’re being an indi­vid­ual is not nec­es­sar­i­ly the best per­spec­tive for peo­ple to have, but that they’re part of some­thing big­ger, like a for­est.

Speak­er 3: 29:50
We’re a very indi­vid­u­al­ized cul­ture but we are, we’re so inter­de­pen­dent. I mean, the world is small and we are part of a big, beau­ti­ful, crazy, com­plex world and I feel myself. My own per­son­al phi­los­o­phy is the more we rec­og­nize that, the more we feel are placed with­in it. And it’s hum­bling in a good way, because we’re not that big a deal, we’re real part and it’s free­ing not to have to car­ry the respon­si­bil­i­ty that most of us do.

Speak­er 1: 30:38
I love the fact that you speak of rela­tion­ship and that’s always been my expe­ri­ence. I knew an indi­vid­ual and for some rea­son they did­n’t impress me by the behav­ior or what­ev­er, and so there’s not hav­ing that rela­tion­ship. That allows us to be very dif­fer­ent from each oth­er. But the idea of hav­ing a rela­tion­ship, which has been the case in my expe­ri­ence, is when all of a sud­den, for some rea­son, I enter into a rela­tion­ship with that per­son as an exam­ple. Then you under­stand there’s so much more to that per­son than that lit­tle moment that I cap­tured and formed from my own bias­es, that indi­vid­ual. And I think that too, in nature, where we take a look at our forests or parks, that the greater of the rela­tion­ship that we have with that, the more we care about that and the more that we want to improve the con­di­tions of our forests, of our water­ways is that when we have a rela­tion­ship with a riv­er or a brook, it just makes us want to do more for those beings, those non-human enti­ties. At the same time, we want to do more for each oth­er because we under­stand that idea of respect is very impor­tant in all rela­tion­ships.

Speak­er 3: 32:03
Yeah, that’s so well said and I guess it is a respect. It’s a respect for all life and our place with­in it and to do what we can. It’s hard to be in nature and just not see the beau­ty and mag­ni­tude, mys­tery, and it’s so big, and not want to care for it, and not want to care for life and every lit­tle bug that you see, or any lit­tle leaf that you see, and the beau­ty of it. How do these things grow and die and live? And it’s just. It’s just a won­der­ful embrace of the mys­tery and it’s some­thing that we all share. We all live on this beau­ti­ful plan­et Earth and we’re all part of it.

Speak­er 1: 33:03
Well, I think, ms Bren­da Mar­tin, this would be a good place to end our con­ver­sa­tion. Well said, thank you so? Much for agree­ing to be on our show here.

Speak­er 3: 33:15
Much for invit­ing me. It was a plea­sure.

Speak­er 1: 33:18
You’re quite wel­come. We’ll talk again. After my con­ver­sa­tion with Bren­da Mar­tin for this episode, I found myself want­i­ng to know more about the orga­ni­za­tion who had trained her. The Asso­ci­a­tion of Nature and For­est Ther­a­py, or ANFT, is a com­mu­ni­ty focus­ing on nur­tur­ing guides who lead oth­ers into the world of nature and for­est ther­a­py. As of last year, they trained 2,400 guides span­ning 66 coun­tries, includ­ing health­care pro­fes­sion­als, doc­tors, nurs­es, psy­chother­a­pists and yoga instruc­tors. But ANFT isn’t about turn­ing them into ther­a­pists. Instead, it’s about enhanc­ing their prac­tices by adding the unique skills and knowl­edge that comes from embrac­ing the way of the guide. As Bren­da Mar­tin empha­sized, for­est bathing is a serene immer­sion into nature, where each step becomes an oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­nect with the envi­ron­ment. Unlike hik­ing, it’s a slow and mind­ful jour­ney. You absorb every sen­sa­tion the gen­tle breeze on your skin, the har­mo­nious melodies of the brook and birds and the rhyth­mic dance of the trees in the wind. For­est bathing isn’t about reach­ing a des­ti­na­tion. It’s about being present and fos­ter­ing a deep con­nec­tion with nature. Inter­na­tion­al For­est Ther­a­py is like a jour­ney of self-dis­cov­ery, help­ing you remem­ber who you are and your place in the grand tapes­try of life. Con­tact infor­ma­tion for the ANFT is in the show notes. Thank you for join­ing us into the world of shaman­ism and its con­nec­tion to grief, heal­ing and spir­i­tu­al growth. If you have enjoyed this con­ver­sa­tion, be sure to sub­scribe to the Urban Grief Shamans. If you have any ques­tions or wish to delve deep­er into these top­ics, we warm­ly invite you to con­nect with us. Your com­ments and sup­port are deeply cher­ished. Until next time, may you find grace and insight into your own spir­i­tu­al jour­ney.