Imagine a place to explore your thoughts without distractions; no technology, no noise, no other requirements placed on you, but putting one foot in front of the other and watching out for your next step.
- By Sophie McLaughlin, Founder, Sport + Spirit Retreats
- Excerpts from Forest Therapy Walk at 2020 Sport + Spirit Wellness Retreat
My office job requires me to do just that, be in an office. So, I sit at my desk, be productive and get the job done.
But, what really excites me and when I do my best thinking, creating and growing is not when I sit, rather, when I move. But it’s not just any movement and it's not just any location!
Although I have always loved walking outdoors, it has not usually been for a purpose of getting from A to B. As much as I hate to admit it, due to our suburban location, that purpose has been best utilized by the car.
My love of walking is much more internally satisfying than practical. And that is why it's not just the act of walking, but more importantly, the location. Walking through nature, on the trails, through the trees, overlooking the flow of water below, brings with it something special that feeds my soul and opens my mind.
Imagine, a place to explore your thoughts without distractions; no technology, no noise, no other requirements placed on you, but putting one foot in front of the other and watching out for your next step.
Without all those distractions, your mind is free to open up to other pathways of thoughts. Thoughts seem to come quicker and clearer.
Walking in Nature and Creativity
Science seems to also back this experience, confirming that walking is clearly linked to increased creative ability. In one Stanford University Study, researchers found that ‘walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity’.
More importantly, as it pertains to nature's environment, they also concluded that ‘although walking was the driver of novel, high-quality analogies (test markers in the study), their research also indicated that ‘walking outside produced the most novel and highest quality analogies’, further clarifying that it was ‘most effective in many locations that do not have acute distractions’.
My New Classroom
So, when I started my 'coaching' sessions and was presented with the option to walk and talk my way through the beautiful Niagara Escarpment, I was thrilled at the opportunity.
I had never ‘studied’ this way before. This was my new classroom experience!
My coach and I had set off in the coldest of the Canadian seasons and we committed to a two-hour block, twice a month for three months, walking along the marked rugged trails.
Each coaching session started off with a short meditation breathing exercise to pull in the air and energy of the forest. This helped transition from the hustle of the day to the quiet of the path ahead.
Then we would progress through the session with a flow of questions, observations and tasks. With each step through the trails, my answers/thoughts seemed to flow so effortlessly, making the session extremely creative and productive.
We are blessed to live in such a beautiful country where nature is abundant and at our doorstep. This experience has taught me that nature cannot be taken for granted, as I realize its power to lift up my spirit, spark my creativity and help set me on my next journey.
Benefits of Forest Therapy/Bathing
This session is distinctly unique in that it is not about the distance, rather the journey, only traveling slow short spans on the walk.
Beth and Allison take guests on a wonderful journey through nature, offering them the opportunity to slow down, tune into their senses and allow for deep connection, introspection, reflection and sharing.
Further described in the following article, Why Forest Bathing is Good For You, "it's all about slowly walking through a forest, taking in the atmosphere through all your senses, and enjoying the benefits that come from such an excursion".