Welcome to Nature Based Therapy

We are delighted to be bringing Nature Based Therapy to the centre June 2022. The land where the centre stands was purchased with the intention that the natural space would help enhance the physical and mental wellbeing of those who would visit. 

To introduce the concept, we will be starting the practise of Shinrin Yoku, or Forest Bathing, for both those diagnosed with cancer and the general public and, later on, we hope to introduce Integrative Forest Therapy Programmes.

 

Our Forest Bathing Walks

From June 7th we will have Forest Bathing Walks every Tuesday and Saturday mornings for adults from 10am until 12.30pm (weather permitting) with tea or coffee provided in the centre afterward.  There will be no charge for those with cancer but a donation of €25 would be greatly appreciated from all others which will go towards sustaining the centre and the nature based programmes. 


As spaces are limited per walk, to book a day please fill in the form below with your full name and the date you wish to attend. We are so looking forward to sharing this experience with you!





What is Forest Bathing?

A Forest Bathing Walk is a gentle, guided meander through a forest or wood, bathing your senses in the space around you. It is designed to bring you out of your head and into your body with the purpose of slowing down, reducing stress and improving your mental and physical well being. The walk isn't about mileage or the destination, but about the journey you take reconnecting with nature.

While a typical walk can last between 2 to 2.5 hours, the practise will be tailored for the differing stages of illness and needs of those diagnosed with cancer. 

During the practise you will be supported and encouraged, by a trained guide, to engage with the nature around you through various invitations, which will include elements of meditation, self reflection, sensual exploration and playfulness. While it is a silent practise, there will be sharing circles to express yourself but only if you are comfortable doing so.



Where did it originate?

The practise of Shinrin Yoku began in the early 1980's in Japan. The term translates to English as forest bath and the practise was a measure to combat work related stress and the illnesses that developed from it. It was also a way to encourage the people of Japan to appreciate and value land. 

South Korea followed soon and now it is a global practise.


 

Can Nature really have such an effect on us?

In 1990 Professor Yoshifumi Miyazaki was the first to scientifically investigate how our minds and bodies react to being in a natural environment. His initial research found that spending time in the forest could have a positive effect on blood pressure, heart rate and the production of the stress hormone, Cortisol.

Since then the advances of scientific technology have allowed a much broader range of investigations, with results that have shown multiple benefits to our minds and bodies from the practise of Forest Bathing.

One of the theories as to why nature effects us this way is that, as human beings, we have spent the majority of our time in the natural world, so genetically we are linked to the rhythms of nature

 

The Science Bit


We have all heard of the feeling of 'fight or flight'. It is the stress response mechanism our brain engages when we are faced with a threat and, for much of our species' existence, the threats we would encounter were predominantly physical threats. However, as our species progressed, especially in the last two hundred years, we began to encounter emotional threats that had the same effect.


Our brain cannot distinguish between physical and emotional threats or stress, so it will engage the fight or flight mechanism for both. And while we all need a little stress now and then, the modern, techno driven world can see us experiencing long bouts of stress which can tilt the balance of our wellbeing.

 
How does prolonged stress effect our body?
Our autonomic nervous system has two roles.

The sympathetic system (our internal security guard) which is set in motion when our brain believes we are under threat. When this is engaged, attention is focused on our limbs and parts of our brain and other maintenance are reduced to minimum function.

The parasympathetic system (our internal housekeeper) is set in motion when we are relaxed and in rest and digest mode. It is responsible for regulating the body and carrying out repairs when calm is restored. 

Having the two in harmony leads to a well balanced and healthy life. It is when we are in a prolonged state of stress, constantly engaging the sympathetic system, that the parasympathetic system may collapse leading to ill health both physically and mentally. 
 

"Intuitively, we understand that the natural world makes us feel relaxed. The idea behind nature therapy is to clarify those effects with science, and to use them as a preventative medicine to improve wellbeing in our modern world. Nature therapy is natural, non invasive and harnesses a quality our bodies already possess: their adaption to nature."

Professor Yoshifumi Miyazaki

Forest Bathing Walks
 

Our Facilitator

 

Emer Dunne is our in house practitioner. Emer has been involved in the Clare 250, in one form or another, for over 25 years. She trained with Shirley Gleeson of Nádúr, Centre for Integrative Forest Therapy and was certified as a Forest Bathing Guide in 2020. Emer continued her training and was certified as an Integrative Forest Therapy Practitioner in 2022. She is also a certified Mental Health First Aider. We are delighted to be associated with Nádúr and are looking forward to our part in the progression of nature based therapy becoming a integral part of healthcare going forward. For more on Nádúr see below.

 

Testimonials 

"I would highly recommend this experience to others! Especially if they are in any way stressed within their day to day life. It really helps to centre the mind and put life into perspective. Such an energising experience. I have left with a new energy and appreciation for nature. And I am motivated to continue this feeling and make sure I allow myself time with nature as it is so important."

Fae
 

"I would highly recommend this to others. It's a reminder, in the busy, stressful, technical world we live in, we all need to reconnect with each other and nature. "

Anto

"If you find your mind is muddled with thoughts and your body is aching from the constant 'go' of life, then this is a very simple practise that will ground you and centre you."

Deirdre

"If I had to recommend this to someone, I would tell them to gift themselves this time and this experience. To come with an open mind and allow themselves to be completely immersed in where they are and how it will make them feel."

Teresa

"I would say that it is a lovely opportunity to disconnect from the world for a few hours, to open your eyes and to become aware of what is around us. The feeling of calm afterwards is like no other!"

Anneke

 

"I would definitely recommend it to anyone. We are all so busy in life, it pays to just enjoy the experience of time in nature, listening to the the sounds and the feel of nature and unwinding in your senses."

Anne

 

"I felt supported and nourished and more spacious from this experience. I felt securely held by the location, by nature and by Emer. It was a truly magical, embodied soul experience."

Shirley

 

“Nature as Medicine”


"Our team at Nádúr are nature and mental health experts. We develop cutting-edge nature-based interventions, underpinned by science, and train practitioners in the competencies necessary to deliver them. Our aim is to instigate meaningful change by having societal, environmental, and economic impact and integrating nature-based solutions into the health system. We resource community mental health initiatives, advocate for new green jobs, and create a diverse, ethical, and sustainable community of practitioners around the world. We challenge inequality, promote inclusion and diversity, and foster community."


To visit the Nádúr website, just click here





 

Online Shinrin Yoku Walks

The Flowers

We are in constant awe at the beauty that surrounds us in the woods of the cancer centre. We thought we would share with you some of the wild flora that captivates us every year. 
The Japanese practise of Shinrin Yoku, or 'Forest Bathing' as it translates to, is a practise that aims to draw your attention to your senses, allowing your focus to centre on the natural world that surrounds you. This practise benefits the mind as well as the body promoting health and well being. Some studies have shown that even looking at pictures of nature can be a stress relief and create a relaxed state. 
So next time you are out and about, let your senses guide you and you may be surprised at what you will notice.

 

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