Two days in to training as an Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT) Guide and it already feels like I have been here a month. The amount of new information, connection, insight and kinship has been immense. There are nine countries represented here across 14 attendees.
The days are full to the brim with experiential learning, discussion, lectures and practical activities. This is followed by evening conversations and university-style digs. I could not be in a more perfect environment for learning and growth and I am having sweet memories of similar times 25 years ago.
Now 44, some would say why bother learning something new? But I know I am on this planet for a while yet and my path of discovery, growth and learning is far from over – and this is feeding my purpose. Right now, I feel like the babes in the woods, transported back into apprenticeship, honing a life skill that provides a deeper connection to myself, showing me how to truly guide others. We are being taught how to work ‘in partnership with the more than human world to accompany and support others on the journeys through which they find and manifest their medicine.’ Amos Clifford.
The simplicity of the forest bathing process is exquisite, yet the delivery is a true art form which can only be developed with practice. It has become very apparent that there are strong ethics and standards which are recognised internationally and studied, producing evidence-based data. The ANFT nature therapy process has been inspired by the Shinrin-Yoku practice in Japan, yet it is distinctly different, primarily to take into account cultural differences and the relevant natural environments.
You know when something fits so perfectly it just slides into place with minimal effort – like the missing corner of your jigsaw? This is how it feels right now, and it’s exhilarating. I have a new way to master, a new confidence to find, and a partnership to develop with the forest. I will also need your help!
‘There is no nature connection without human connection.’
– Amos Clifford
This week I will lead parts of a 3-hour forest guided walk with my peers and with the public. That feels somewhat surreal writing this tonight! Even though I have been using nature for years in my coaching practice, this is a completely different experience. Like switching from roller skates to ice skates.
Returning to the ordinary world on Sunday night will be a joyful experience, as I get to be with my family again and it marks the beginning of a six-month practical assessment process to fulfil my certification requirements! That, while weaving in the complexities of life and work.
I feel very passionately about this practice, how it is developing, its mission and its importance for wellness for people, the forests and the world.
If you are interested in learning more and would like to sign up for a guided walk, then feel free to subscribe to our mailing list to receive notifications of when guided walks will be taking place locally in Hertfordshire.
With a grateful heart,