Forest and nature therapy enables deep reconnection with ourselves through immersion in nature. An important part of this is being present in the moment, or in other words being mindful. Achieving a state of mindfulness is useful in enabling that reconnection but is also a byproduct of that immersion. This is one of the distinct qualities of Forest Bathing and sets it apart from many other mindful-based practices.
If we believe that being in the woods is just a context for being present through calm, mindful breathing then we would miss the point. Tuning our senses to more accurately experience the present can lead us to experience connections and sensations in the following ways:
Flow — this is where you become so focussed and engaged in something that all sense of time disappears all sense of time drops away, and you are utterly in present moment. It often involves a physical or creative challenge and is very different from calm mindful breathing. Good examples of this are tracking and stalking animals in the forest or barefoot wild-running that is off-trail.
Exuberance — where people may have a bubbling joy and zest for life, and almost can’t help living in the now. Children are much more common in having a sense of exuberance and tend to live more in the present. In fact as we get older the expectations, assumptions and gravity of adult life means we can lose this. The private, non-judgemental space of the forest is a perfect place to become a child in nature and climb, leap, crawl, jump, sing, laugh, and chase like Peter Pan himself. Acting like you are six might make you feel a lot younger. The forest is your playground.
Ecstasy — this word comes from the ancient Greek ekstasis. This literally means ‘to step outside of the self’. Intense sensory stimulation (such as sex or music) can almost give you an out of body experience. In fact tuning your senses up to gain the full input from the majesty of the forest and its sense of the sublime or awe of nature can trip us over into a state of present moment awareness.