COLUMBIA CITY – Stressed? Tired? Frustrated? Maybe time in the forest is all you need. The local Whole Living Collective has the antidote to 21st Century living at the first Forest Therapy event set for Sept. 7 at Morsches Park.

Jessica Burkett, Whole Living Collective founder and event organizer, explained forest therapy as: “the practice of spending time in forested areas for the purpose of enhancing health, wellness, and happiness. The practice follows the general principle that it is beneficial to spend time bathing in the atmosphere of the forest.”

With origins in Japanese culture, forest therapy is also known as forest bathing or Shinrin-Yoku in Japanese. As described in the event posting on Facebook, forest therapy is a universal belief in the power of the natural world to heal.

“We mean spending time in nature in a way that invites healing interactions,” as explained on the website for the Association of Forest and Nature Therapy Guides and Programs. “There is a long tradition of this in cultures throughout the world. It’s not just about healing people; it includes healing for the forest (or river, or desert, or whatever environment you are in).”

Forest therapy is not simply taking a walk in the woods, although this too holds benefits. The core principles vital to forest therapy include: mindfully experiencing the landscape with all senses open; taking time to experience the environment, not simply taking a hike through the woods; practicing the therapy regularly; and creating a connection with nature

“As the founder of Whole Living collective I am a huge advocate of being outside,” Burkett said. “I teach outdoor education to students and encourage adults to get outside and move naturally as much as possible.

“We as humans are not meant to spend the majority of our time indoors,” she explained. “That is why we are exhibiting symptoms of a caged animals, be it physical, mental or spiritual maladies. Getting outside more benefits us in all of those aspects of our life.”

The Saturday, Sept. 7, session in Columbia City will include a talk by Christy Thomson, a trained forest therapist. Thomson will focus on what Forest Therapy is, its benefits and will lead participants on a short walk on the trails at the park.

According to her bio, Thomson was born and raised in the farmlands of Indiana, where she now resides with her four children and husband. She is a violinist, vocalist and teacher by training and vocation. She administers a music school in her small town through the local YMCA.

Thomson lives on a small hobby farm where she has planted vegetable gardens, berries and fruit trees. She is currently finishing a degree in Environmental Science and Religious Studies.

Those planning on attending should meet at the Pavilion at the back of the park by the pond at 10 a.m. The meet up is expected to last until 11:30 a.m. There is no charge to attend and take part.

Those attending are advised to bring appropriate clothing, bug spray, water and a snack, if needed.

“To make this event more impactful, come open minded, bring friends and leave your cell phone in your car,” Burkett added.

Morsches Park is located at 1035 East State Road 205 in Columbia City. For more information on the event or the Whole Living Collective, visit the Facebook Event page at: https://www.facebook.com/

events/480674159172425/.

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