Way Back Home
Becoming one with nature. Letting go of all the daily stress, thoughts and deadlines. That’s what Kat Novotna was aiming for after she started experiencing chronic pain in her body due to too much work. She noticed the forest was the only place she could actually find peace. It inspired her so much that she wanted to help others. Kat became a Forest Therapy guide, showing many what natures’ impact is on the body & mind.
What exactly is Forest Bathing?
Forest Bathing is an inversion of nature in your body – what we call bodyfulness. Everyone knows mindfulness but this is about bodyfulness – becoming aware of your body and the freedom it can experience. A usual Forest Bathing session lasts 3 hours and if you do it with a guide, the guide will help you come into the senses fully. The effect is that people reach a state of ‘opening the doors.’ Normally, we have all these filters and thoughts, but when you’re guided through the 5 senses you enter a different time and space. It’s like the timelessness and freedom that people remember from their childhood – being free and happy. It’s about slowing down, relaxation, getting to your body. The effects of being in that moment you can receive a lot from nature. Nature’s our partner in this process – an active partner to connect with, showing us revelations inside. It shows us our creative ideas, how to heal, what our emotions are, pure bliss, freedom… so many inspiring aspects for a new lifestyle.
What inspired you to become a Forest Therapy guide?
My own lifestyle! My own experience with this world, the pace, deadlines, pressure and stress. I used to work as a translater, had my own business in which I was pleasing many clients. Too many deadlines and I pretty much spent my life in front of the computer. I started having aches in my body and my back. I also developed an eye inflamation – which was chronical for 2 years which at one point, made me stop working with the computer. I had to reconsider my lifestyle, learn to relax again, so I started with yoga and meditation. I noticed the forest was the only place I felt good because of the fresh air. The forest and its’ colours were so calming for my eyes. It’s actually scientifically shown that the colours green and brown are really calming for the eyes. That was my process for my own recovery. I started giving trainings for companies in order to connect with people and I noticed that everyone in the corporate world had the same issues. These people were sitting all day, not moving, not going out, resulting in burn outs, mental problems like anxiety, panic attacs & depression. I wanted to help, so I looked into lifecoaching, but in the process I realised I wanted to so something more in the moment, being active and being in nature. So it became clear that I wanted to become a Forest Therapy guide and ever since it has become my mission ánd passion.
In what way do people benefit from Forest Bathing?
People benefit on three levels – psychiological, mental and emotional/spiritual. Psychiological is what people are feeling, they start feeling better & healthier. All the markers like stress hormones, high bloodpressure, high cholesterol – all part of the modern lifestyle- are balanced in your body. Trees have their own immune system and they contain phytoncides – antimicrobial essential oils protecting trees from germs. Research in Japan has shown that once these phytoncides are released in the air, not only will they automatically be breathed in by a person, the immune system of both the person and the tree are sinked. What happens in our body? Our natural killer cells, the ones that protect you from viruses, not only get activated but also increase, becoming elevated for several weeks after a three hour walk. So it’s a big boost for your immune system.
Regarding the mental level, what people report and notice, is that their mood shifts. You feel a better sense of well being, you’re able to take a step back and see your life from a bird perspective. Your cortisol is lower which makes it able for you to calm down. People are able to find inner peace easier.
As for the emotional/spiritual aspect – people feel a real connection with nature. A connection with the whole, realising that we are part of something bigger. If we want healthy people, we need healthy forests, healthy waters and air. When people lean against a tree, they feel a real connection and they feel that something’s holding them. Regaring your emotions – if you’re already in a good mood the forest will only make you happier. If there’s anything you need to process, if there’s any grief, the forest will be your mirror – showing you what’s going on in your body & mind – often resulting in a big relief.
How have you been able to help people so far?
The forest is the therapist, the guide is opening the doors! My job is to open the doors, to help people slow down. The stories I see and hear back from people are amazing. People experience deep moments and reflection on their lives. Sometimes people change jobs after a walk – realising it’s no good for them. Most people introduce more silence and solo time – making sure they take care of themselves. Sometimes the walks and time in the forest make people realize they need to work on relationships. It’s a great honor to be helping people this way, especially knowing that they’re actually doing it themselves.
Due to Covid, I have been able to help people in different ways. People take a walk in their own forest and I guide them through their earphones making them connect with nature. I also started with EcoNIDRA – a branch of the yoga nidra tree where nidra meets nature connection. A guided meditation connecting you with nature. It helps people amazingly well, so I guess Covid has opened some doors for me as well.
Shared by Your Souldier
Pics: Way back home, on front page Unsplash