Experience the healing power of our wild world.

Photos above by Gordon Tutor

We invite you to immerse yourself in the forest and experience your deep connection with the natural world, as you join one of our monthly forest bathing walks in Conserving Carolina preserves. The walks are led by Dr. Mattie Decker, a certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide. Mattie is also a mindfulness teacher, a Zen practictioner, an Episcopal oblate, and a retired professor of education. She is certified in wilderness medicine and first aid. Mattie likes to share this saying from her forest bathing mentors: “The forest is the therapist. The guide opens the door.”

Many forest bathing walks will take place on our beautiful Transfiguration Preserve in Bat Cave, NC. Additional walks may be planned for other places of wonder that Conserving Carolina has helped protect. In addition to forest bathing walks, we look forward to offering special events that incorporate music, art, photography, writing, or foraging for edible plants into the forest bathing experience.

find upcoming forest bathing events

Keeping You Safe

During COVID, we are limiting our forest bathing walks to eight participants. All walks will be held outdoors, with social distancing and masks to keep all participants safe.

Reserve Your Spot

Due to the limited group size, registration is required. Please email mattie@conservingcarolina.org to reserve your spot. If you find that you are unable to make it, please let Mattie know so that we can give your spot to another participant. You must bring this signed Participant Agreement.

Donations are Welcome

Forest therapy walks are free to all. However, if you are able to make a donation to Conserving Carolina to help protect wild places and reconnect people with the more-than-human world, it will be gratefully received. You can make donations online here or give by cash or check at the event. If you make a gift of $35 or more, you will receive Conserving Carolina membership benefits.

MAKE A DONATION

Dr. Mattie Decker is a certified nature and forest therapy guide.

What is Forest Bathing?

The practice of forest bathing encourages you to slow down, relax and reconnect with nature by quieting the mind and awakening the senses. Join a certified forest therapy guide for a relaxing two to 2.5 hour stroll through the forest in our stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. Through a series of invitations, you will have an opportunity to focus on being present in the moment, deepening your connection with nature and community, and enjoying the many gifts nature has to offer. The walk culminates in a tea ceremony with snacks.

Forest bathing is a walk in nature during which your guide will share mindfulness practices and invitations designed to connect you more deeply to your inner landscapes as well as the world around you. Inspired by shinrin-yoku, the Japanese art of immersing oneself in a forest environment, forest bathing walks invite guests to spend time in nature in a way that invites healing for both us, our fraught ecosystems, and our community.

SEE STORIES AND reflections ABOUT forest bathing

Tea ceremony
Each forest bathing walk concludes with a tea ceremony and snacks, celebrating the gifts of the forest.

What to Bring

Forest bathing walks are held outside, in a variety of weather conditions. Please remember that temperatures in higher elevations can be significantly lower than in town and rain is always a possibility. Bring whatever you need to be comfortable on a gentle walk in the forest. We recommend that you bring:

  • Participant Agreement Form (required)
  • Your own cup or mug for the tea ceremony
  • Water
  • Warm layers
  • Rain gear
  • Comfortable close-toed shoes
  • Sun protection
  • An open heart and mind

Check the specific calendar event listing to see if there is anything else you need to bring for the unique forest bathing event that you are attending.

forest bathing participants
Forest bathing participants with Dr. Mattie Decker

Understanding Forest Bathing

Most of us are new to the practice of forest bathing, or forest therapy, which derives from the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku. As you deepen your understanding, here are some thoughts to consider:

Forest therapy is best seen as a practice, not a one-time event. Developing a meaningful relationship with nature occurs over time, and is deepened by returning again and again throughout the natural cycles of the seasons. Like yoga, meditation, prayer, working out, and many other worthy endeavors, shinrin-yoku is a practice. And because it is a practice, it is best to learn it from a qualified guide.

It’s not just about taking walks in the forest. The walks are important, but there are other core routines that we can do that will help in our deepening relationship with nature, and in the exchange of health benefits between humans and the more-than-human-world. We often incorporate some of these practices in our guided shinrin-yoku walks, particularly the practices of sit spot, place tending, and cross-species communication.

Forest therapy is not an extractive process, where we treat forests as a “resource” from which we extract well being for humans. Instead, it is a deeply relational practice, characterized by a sense of loving and tender connection. This connection leads naturally to an ethic of tenderness and reciprocity. Forest therapy is about creating relationships between humans and the more-than-human world, in which the relationship itself becomes a field of healing and a source of joyful well-being.

Learn more from the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs

Woman forest bathing
Experience a loving relationship with the forest.

Testimonials from Nature and Forest Therapy Walks with Dr. Mattie Decker