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Family Forest Bathing in the Cairngorms

During that weird time between Christmas and New Year, (you know when you’ve no idea what day it is, or what meal is next and chocolate just appears from nowhere), I had the pleasure of running a Forest Bathing session for families and it was a slightly surprisingly, but beautiful experience.

We met in the local Anagach Woods on the edge of Grantown on Spey, it snowed all morning before we met and as I arrived to check the path beforehand, I had the pleasure of being the first footsteps to explore to trails ahead.

snowy footpaths in woodland

Our group comprised of four adults and four children all of primary school age and as the snow fell peacefully around us, we started the session, none of us really knew what to expect; being honest, I’ve not taken children Forest Bathing before and this group were aware they were my testers! What I do know, is to trust the forest and trust that what will be will be and the forest will support me; and that it did.

As we started the session with ‘Pleasures of Presence’ and I invited the group to get comfy, despite the snowy ground, each child plonked themselves on the floor without hesitation and with that I felt my own anxiety plonk itself down there too and I could relax.

There was a calmness during the opening POP and even with other woodland users it was quiet. One of our younger members, Erin-Louise had a serenity over her face, as she seemed to ground herself to the land, under the falling flurry of flakes and tall Pine trees, with her eyes closed there was a peace.

children sat in the snow in the woods

After a brief pause to fill up our boots and gloves with ‘hand warmers’ we continued to explore the wood around us using invitations such as ‘what’s in motion’ and looking at the ‘small things’ and ‘textures’. When we talk about using invitations, they are just that, completely open to interpretation and almost like an outstretched hand saying, “Come on, you could do this… or do that, if that’s what the forest wants!” One of our group is a Red Squirrel at heart, she thrives to climb trees and if that was where the forest led her (which it did) – not a problem, her Mum was on hand and she’s pretty nimble in scampering up the trees! That is the beauty of Forest Therapy, the more I guide, the more I learn you cannot predict a session or force an outcome, the guests and the forest will do as they need to at the time.

Many of the sessions I have ran in the past have been very calm and that calmness has come through the mutual silence of the guests as they practice what they need to do during the session. The calmness during this session came from the relaxed nature of the parents, the laughter of the children and the sharing of noticings between each other.

We finished our session with hot chocolate and brownies as we shared things to complete our time together; the one that sticks in mind, being the tree stump that looked like a snail!......... little Eve is still climbing trees somewhere too……

One thing I know…. more Family Forest Bathing sessions will feature in the 2021 schedule for sure!


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