Like squirrels jumping from tree to tree, searching for nuts to stock up on, we scampered through the forest as the “eagle in the nest” counted down the timer. Would we make it back to a secure hiding spot and remain “unseen” but able to “see”… that was yet to be determined…
What is Forest Bathing?
Also known as Nature Therapy, or eco therapy describes a broad group of techniques or treatments with the intention of improving an individual’s mental or physical health, specifically with an individual’s presence within nature or outdoor surroundings. Forest Therapy is a mindful experience of slowing down and being in the moment. It is a blend of ancient traditions and modern research for supporting healing, wellness, and happiness through immersion in forests and other natural settings. It is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, which translates into Forest Bathing.
Our Host – Ya Doma Nature and Forest Therapy
We were invited by Kim, owner of Ya Doma Nature and Forest Therapy in Harrison. “Ya Doma Nature and Forest Therapy gives you the freedom to experience your inner and outer world like you never have before. It is an opportunity for you to slow down and be guided to a state where you are quiet enough to hear the language of your heart. Nature is the perfect backdrop for quietening the mind and tuning inward to hear your truth, to see a path, to find a new perspective, to decompress, sit in peace and awe, to come to a revelation, or any other myriad of amazing fortuities. Whether you are ready to transform your life or you want to experience the beautiful forests of Harrison Hot Springs, BC and area, then Ya Doma Nature and Forest Therapy invites you to experience something new.”
Family Forest Bathing in Harrison
Ya Doma’s Forest Fun program is the perfect nature therapy program for families to embrace together. Based around immersion activities, invitations to participate, new and different ways to engage, and the freedom to explore, I can honestly say that it was a wonderful way to deeply connect with nature, and our true nature as well.
The Empty Cup Mentality
Also known as an open mind, I taught my children the theory of the Empty Cup mentality before we embarked on this experience. The theory is one where you pretend you have an empty cup before you go into the experience and your job is to fill it up with experiences, reflections, and new learnings. The goal is to remove our own bias on “what we know” or “we’ve done this before” and learn something new at every opportunity.
A Sneak Peek Into a Family Fun Forest Bathing Experience
Our first invitation for exploration came in the form of a game called the Eagles nest. The goal was to “see but not be seen” teaching us the magic of the forest that we know is there but can’t always be seen, and practicing that magic ourselves. So we all hid out while the person who was “it” stayed in the nest, counting. When time was up they held out a numerical code on their hands, and we had to find a way to see it, without being seen! This repeated itself and we were either spotted and welcomed back to the nest, or if we made it to the end and repeated the code, we won!
Guiding The Way
The forest has so many senses that can be embraced and with our blindfolds on we were encouraged to listen to the sounds of our guide (clapping a stick) and feel the ground with our feet. With removing the visual comfort of eyesight, and working together as a team we were able to navigate the path and hear and feel the forest in different ways.
Seeing The Unseen
Our Guide Kim was kind enough to stop us at a moment on the trail before we stepped into a huge pile of bear droppings. This was a perfect example of another Forest creature that we would know was there, but remain unseen. Kim was a great guide and taught us the philosophies of “Bashful Bear” and “Courageous Cougar” ensuring we were all collectively safe on the experience. To learn more about how to stay safe in the outdoors click here.
Later on in our Forest Bathing in Harrison tour, we came to a slower-paced trail exploration where we were able to walk slowly, soften our eyes, and seek magic in the forest that was surrounding us. We were able to soak in the health benefits of phytoncides (an organic chemical compound that are released by trees as a defence mechanism towards viruses, fungi and bacteria. When trees emit phytoncides in the air the trees benefit as do we.)
We were able to let our minds wander, our hearts open up, and soak in every stimulus and moment of peace that surrounded us. While the children were free to talk and ask questions, they too were lost in their own moments.
Gift to the Forest
We were each invited to leave a gift for the forest, as a thank you for creating the wonderful day for us. With 20 minutes to reflect, gather, and create we each came back with something very different, and equally unique to our experience (even my husband was fully engaged). We’d move on to the tea ceremony and share our creations and our gifts that we were leaving for Mother Nature herself.
My children have never had a sip of tea and the formal nature of the word ceremony was worrisome to them before we started our Forest Bathing in Harrison adventure. However after a beautiful blanket was laid out with hand made teacups, it was evident that this was another welcoming place for us to gather, share, celebrate, and show gratitude for nature and our experience.
In closing, what I was most grateful for was the empty cup and open hearts that my family came into this experience with. Through this lens they were able to fully embrace the experience and had a truly wonderful time. The 2.5 hours flew by, we honestly couldn’t believe how time moved so fast, even though we were moving slowly. “Moments of solitude with Mother Nature is sunshine to a soul.” — Anthony Douglas Williams
What to Bring
In order to have the best experience, there’s one thing you must bring. An open mind. Logistically, here’s a few other elements that will help ensure you have a fabulous experience:
- Bug spray – With the hid and seek games, having bug spray on will ensure you can be in the forest, undistracted!
- Layers – appropriate clothes and footwear for hiking.
- Food and water for the tea ceremony (light snacks and a drink)
The family fun tour is a great way to escape the sun on a hot day and slow down and sneak out of the “tamed world”. At $15 per person for a 1.5-hour experience, it’s the perfect investment and duration for families to have a wonderful experience.
Feeling inspired to spend some time in nature? Check out the blogs below!
Is this a sponsored post?: Yes. While our Forest Bathing in Harrison adventure is sponsored, all thoughts and opinions are our own.