Lets get everyone outdoors! by Sarah Burgess

I’ve been reading a lot about the benefits of forest bathing this week, or Shinrin Yoku as it is called in Japan where the term was first coined – although of course many native communities have always had customs and ceremonies based around nature.

Just because it is called forest bathing doesn’t mean it has to be done in a forest.   If there isn’t one available, try it in your local park or even in your own garden if you’re lucky enough to have one.  Essentially all you have to do is take a slow walk through nature (turn off your phone before you start!), focus on your senses – can you hear birdsong, the wind amongst the leaves?  What can you smell -  the rain or the fragrance of the lavender?  How does the air feel against your skin?  Is the ground beneath your feet hard or soft?  Turn down the volume on your inner thoughts and be present in this moment.

If you have been reading my ramblings for a while now, you’ll know there are plenty of benefits to be gained from looking at nature, listening to nature, being in nature.  Maybe you’re still not convinced that you are an “outdoorsy” person.  As my neighbour once said to me “the only point to the outdoors is that it’s a way to get to another indoors” – but even she was taking regular walks in the park during lockdown.

Through our networks we have been hearing from a range of organisations who would usually run groups and sessions for their clients indoors, but that still isn’t possible in a lot of cases.  The members of the Green Volunteer Network are keen to demonstrate how the outdoors can be used instead.

If you’re a member of staff in an organisation that wants to use the outdoors as a venue for working with your clients we are looking at ways to offer support and training as well as ideas for activities that you could try, including:

  1. Nature meditations and mindfulness
  2. Outdoor craft creativity
  3. Fire circle (learning safe fire lighting)
  4. Nature poetry
  5. Foraging (safely)
  6. Photography
  7. Growing

If you are an organisation that would be interested in this sort of support, please get in touch.  If you are an organisation that is offering activities in the outdoors and you aren’t already part of the network, give me a shout.

This is something we are working to develop and all input and ideas are welcome!  I look forward to hearing from you. sarah.burgess@vaslan.org.uk