Our gardens are like little sections of 'wild' in suburbia. They provide us with opportunity to tend the land, nurture plants, observe the seasons, and interact with the More Than Human World. They offer us solace from our busy lives and drop us into a way of interacting with Time that is more akin to the way of our ancestors did than modern day living. They are, in essence, sanctuaries. In this week's blog post, guest writer Sylvie Young shares with us her story of planting and tending a garden in New Jersey in the aftermath of 9/11, and how this plot of land helped her move the grief afterwards. May this piece inspire you to spend a little more time in your own garden, or to plant one of your own.
The term "tree hugger" has been used widely in Western culture, and often times with not the most positive connotation attached to it. Through the lens of her own deep connection to trees and nature, guest writer Liza Pullman shares how trees are intelligent and conscious beings that can bring wisdom and healing to the humans that choose to connect with them. This week's blog offers a wonderful summary of some of the most recent literature about the complex capabilities of trees. So the next time someone calls you a tree hugger, you'll be able to assuredly and confidently say thank you.
For many of us at ANFT, we feel a deep, innate sense of love and connection to trees- that is why we are in this work. But have you ever wondered where this deep love comes from? Is there clues in our ancestral past which point to this connection? Is there more to our love than just our personal experiencing with trees and the forest? Forest Therapy Guide and ANFT Staff member Denell Nawrocki answers some of these questions. Prompted for an Indigenous Medicine class for her graduate school program, Denell uncovered her ancestral connection to her love of trees and dove deep into historical connection of this reverence. We hope you find this piece intriguing and inspires you to dive into your own ancestral connection to your love of trees and nature.
Recent research shows that there is more to the life of plants than we ever imagined and knew before. Intimate communications among them, sensory perception, and energetic responses are some of the new characteristics we have discovered when it comes to the plant world. What do these new personality traits mean for inter-species relationships between humans and plants? How can we utilize these new understandings to dive deeper into connection and relationship with our photo-synthesizing neighbors? In this week's blog piece, Daniel Burge explores intimate communication and fellowship with plants in the surrounding lands of his home in Ireland. He tells of profound messages, longing, and a deep love which only a flower could evoke. May this piece inspire you to explore personal relationship and contact with the plant kingdom around your own home. Perhaps they have a message for you which you need to hear.
The practice of Shinrin-Yoku, or Forest Bathing, centers around the concept of 'slowing down'. Health benefits such as a reduction in cortisol levels, increase in parasympathetic nervous response, and increase in immune function have all been cited as benefits of spending time in nature and the forest. However, these are only benefits found on the physical level. What about the deeper levels of human experience: the mental, emotional and even spiritual aspects of being a Being on this planet Earth? These sorts of philosophical inquiries naturally arise as one sinks deeper into the practice of nature-connection, and one that Certified Guide and Trainer Ben Page explores in this piece. What happens when we remove all the 'benefits', 'indicators' and 'measurements' from Forest Therapy and make space for something more simple to emerge- the pleasure of simply witnessing the world around you? What happens when you begin to inquire, "What am I noticing"? The answers which arise just may surprise you.
Indigenous peoples from across the world have relied on the More-than-Human-World for messages and omens. The founding of Tenochtitlan, the ancient Aztec name for what is now Mexico City, is said to have occurred when the prophecy of witnessing an eagle attacking a snake. The birth of a white buffalo calf is heralded as a highly important spiritual event by many plains Native American tribes in the United States. Throughout time, animals and birds have represented archetypal human experiences, and their symbolic powers were revered and respected. In this week's blog post, ANFT Guide in Training and Staff Member Jenny Harrow shares with us her experience of this potent healing symbolism, and invites us to notice what creatures of the More-than-Human-World appear to us in our daily lives. Perhaps they are trying to send us a message, and it is up to us to simply notice them.
Who hasn't felt that sense of calm that washes over the body when you find yourself next to a place of water? It is as though the water in our own bodies recognizes the body of water in front of us, and a sense of coming home occurs. Perhaps this is why it is easy to get lost in watching the ocean waves, the bubbling of a brook, or the current of a river. The sense of calm and ease is inherent in being next to water. In this week's blog, guest writer David Davis explores how incorporating time next to water is not only great for overall health, but especially for the health of seniors. May this piece inspire you to get outside and find a body of water to be next to, even if only for an hour. Enjoy!
Sometimes one of the most challenging experiences in life is to just let go. In this week's blog, guest writer Jessica Collins shares a childhood memory of learning how to navigate a ropes course, which ultimately unfolded into becoming her first experience with really listening to the forest and learning how to trust. By tuning into the quiet and subtle wisdom the forest provides, Jessica was able to release her fear and jump into the unknown.
This week, Clare Kelley explores darkness as a positive and restorative facet of the natural world, and shows us ways that we can learn and heal from it.
"Sit Spot" is the practice of finding a place in nature to sit quiet and still, allowing the senses to be flooded by the environment. This week, Corinne H. Smith teaches us how to get the most out of this experience by helping us notice all the subtle nuances of our surroundings.