A Forest Bathing group in Salford have come together to practice mindfulness through immersing themselves in nature.
Natalie Rossiter, leader of the walk, takes the bathers an an outside adventure through the forest to help them connect to nature to reduce stress and improve mental health.
Forest Bathing is a Japanese form of Shinrin Yoku, which Natalie thought Salford would benefit from. A ‘forest bath’ is a simple, deeply healing practice of immersing oneself in nature which can be both a physical and mental healing process.
The practice is for people who feel being in a traditional counselling room is too uncomfortable for them and find it easier to open up in an outdoor environment. Natalie offers sessions in several parks throughout Salford such as Dukes Drive, Worsley Woods, Clifton Country Park, Kersal Dale.
The walk has a three hour duration and consists of mindfulness, sense exploration and meditation through breathing exercises.
The participants started the walk off with a brief explanation discussing the goals they wish to achieve by the end of the session. Walking through the first gate the group were told to abandon their worries and stresses before they carried on on their wellness journey.
The group then began to explore their first sense, sound. They listened to the natural forest noises with hopes of connecting to the nature around them, clearing their minds of the stress and worries they were carrying.
Dave Dunne, a participant and counselor on the walk, described his Forest Bathing experience on the walk.
Further on in the walk Natalie guided the bathers through meditation in the forest, helping to educate people on how to take time for themselves and step out of their busy 9-5 routine.
Natalie strongly believes in letting go of stresses and worries, and had the group pick up a forest item, such as a leaf, throw it into the stream then walk across the bridge, leaving their worries behind.
Sally Barrett, also a counselor taking part in the walk, said, “I’m really happy Forest Bathing has now been introduced to Salford, as I used to travel to Cholton so it’s great it’s now closer to me.
“Being a counselor you carry the burden of other people’s worries, meaning I don’t have much head space to take time for myself so Forest Bathing has really helped me connect with myself.”
At the end of the walk, Natalie offers the group a chance to share what they have gained from the experience. She explained, “I wanted to create a more natural environment than a normal counselling room, bringing Forest Bathing to Salford I hope to help people take time for themselves and release their stresses in a peaceful natural environment.”
The sessions are set to continue into the new year in seasonal waves to educate the people of Salford to appreciate natures progression throughout the year and encourage mindfulness in their everyday life.