To Study Forest Bathing?
I have just answered an email that is like several similar emails I receive often. This is from overseas from a person of a different language and the translation was understandably awkward from a beautiful language to our jumbled one, so I have altered it to 'tidy' it up a little ...
"I want to be a Forest Therapist. I have tried different ways to convince people to go to the woods and become aware and solidary to woods and their protection. I can do very little because I am not qualified in forestry, in biology or any other related subject. I would love to become forest therapist following the way of Shinrin-yoku. I do not have the money to attend courses, so, could you, please, be so kind to recommend books or similar that would teach me to make my dream come true?"
Here is my answer ...
"Careful, you may be overestimating the need for 'qualifications' to do this. With my book and writings, people often ask who am I referring from and what are the printed source references to my work, and who was I 'trained' by.
I reply to these questions with something like, "well if I did provide written references, where do you think those people got their information from? Probably from other printed or written references? Go far enough back through that ancestry of information and you'll find the person who only had experience and inspiration to writer about. That's what I do, I cut out all of the middle people and go right to the source for my information" :-)
If I am questioned further I go back to my herbal training of a very long time ago. I got a certificate and diploma from a couple of schools after years of study but my memory of most of that has now gone.
I then think of animals and how when they have an ailment they will look at, sniff, bite, and even hear to determine if a leaf, twig, bark, blossom or fruit is what they need at any time. A wee smell or bite without salivaing or swallowing is a fast way to determine of something is toxic, if you pay attention to instinct more than a book. Being like the animals can makes us all far better herbalists and self healers than any book studied herbalists may, for most symptoms.
So, to answer you, I think books, Shinrin Yoku courses etc. are largely a waste of money and time. Most of them are set up as industries with a top priority to get your money and cloak what you learn and do with a falsehood of credentials for what we should be doing naturally as part of our culture.
I feel that reading books and blogs are not a waste of time if you can relate to them as tools rather than teachers. To me, writings are wonderful sideline entertainment that can inspire too. I write blogs and books, myself and hope that's how people respond.
The last thing I want is to be some kind of guru. I write because I do feel I have a lot to say about being in the forests, the benefits etc. As I do this full time I need some income back, so I tend to also get a bit of cashflow back from serving accommodation and meals to people who travel to share our woodlands. People like to travel to see and do something different.
I believe the best way for you to achieve leadership and coaching in 'frest bathing' is to invite and group up with people who enjoy being in the forests. In the forests together, each person is open to share what their senses tell them and what their memories tell them of what is there in the forest. Together so much is learned and experienced without some guru being present.
Even so, a group still likes someone to be present as a kind of coach who makes initial decisions until others step forward to lead some other ideas.
A lot of people may feel insecure with this, and feel it is un-professional and holds no value. Infortunately, amny people look for the security of certifications, books etc. from their leaders. In the woodlands, if they are served that they are not really engaging in what the woods and forests are all about.
Forest presence should never be doctrine, should never be linear. Its a spiral collective experience just like the spiralling rings inside a tree and all of the collective life that live there and support that.
I would say forget the courses etc and just go to the woods, the forests and invite people along and share them. Keep it natural and spontaneous and take something for the picnic table. To include the fellowship of food within the forest is a powerful inspirational experience, totally unexpected.
Have fun doing this :-) "
So what say you to this question and answer? ...