Today was the first of our autumn series of Forest Bathing walks at the University of Stirling.
As group of seven, we met at the Pathfoot Building before walking around the loch to the older parts of the grounds; my favourite place I have found on campus - before becoming the University, we know today, the Graham family owned Airthrey Estate and they worked with the famous Scottish botanist and plant hunter George Forrest on trees to plant. As you head to the arboretum area, you find a beautiful, rich mixture of trees, from Giant Sequoia to Monkey Puzzle and Rhododendron to Hydrangea, all surrounded by a watery cliffside above, invitingly covered in soggy moss with nooks and inviting areas to get lost and take a moment to breathe.
In a green and leafy glade, we started with introductions before our ‘Pleasures of Presence’ mediation. As we settled and I begun to guide the group, I was annoyed about how loud the birds were singing – they were competing with me! I quickly checked myself and embraced the increasing volume of bird song as the participants begun to sink into their surroundings. Many of the group noticed the birdsong too, the softness of the grass and cool air around us.
We worked our way through several invitations before tea and snacks; looking at what is in motion around us, textures and a sit spot. Tiny cobwebs gentle drifted in the cool breeze; small insects and birds flitted about their business; trees were spiky and rough in parts and soft and cloud-like in others, with one guest reminding us the similarities between a tree’s bark and our own human skin and we are all different.
Under the twisted branches of a Wych Elm we had our tea and snacks to bring our session to an end and shared an final thoughts. Hopefully all leaving a little more relaxed than when we started.
Keep up to date with further walks via the University here