Forest Bathing and Forest Braining

Forest Bathing and Forest Braining

The main reason that we do this work is because Nature makes us feel better. We know how being in Nature positively affects our mental health. We have discovered the unique rejuvenating, soothing properties of just being and breathing in the forest, sharing our breath (and our thoughts) with the trees – they are great listeners!

When we simplify life and slow down healing happens – Our minds de-stress, our brains immediately respond and carry out a reset, or reboot.

Brain scans show that time spent in Nature is positively related to grey matter in the cerebral cortex. This part of the cortex is involved in the planning and regulation of actions as well as what is referred to as cognitive control. In addition, many psychiatric disorders are known to be associated with a reduction in grey matter in the prefrontal area of the brain.

“Results show that our brain structure and mood improve when we spend time outdoors. This most likely also affects concentration, working memory, and the psyche as a whole” says Simone Kühn, head of the Lise Meitner Group for Environmental Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and lead author of the study.[1]

One of the key regions of the brain that has been studied to understand the impact of Nature v urban exposure is the Amygdala. This remarkable, small, almond shaped/sized structure at the base of the brain is responsible for many aspects of our survival mechanisms, stress processing and is associated with how we process emotions, and emotional episodic recall. It is the deepest most primitive part of the Limbic system from the Latin Limbus meaning “border” or “edge” and from where we get liminality.

The Amygdala and Limbic system form the head brain aspects of the ‘Savage Self’ hypothesis, drawing on present and past life memories to support survival of the individual, initiating defence responses to perceived threat.

The Amygdala has reciprocal communications with the Hypothalamus and the HPA or Hypothalamic-Pituitary–Adrenal-Axis. This is closely associated with our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) – Are you still with me? The Amygdala is also closely associated with our senses particularly smell and memory associations. The little Amygdala can basically trigger a chain of reactions based on fear and anxiety connected to our memories and recall. It’s the Vagus nerve that conveys the (sometimes false) information to the SNS switching on our fight or flight response.

Even a short exposure to nature decreases amygdala activity, suggesting that a walk in Nature could serve as a preventive measure against developing mental health problems and buffering the potentially degenerating impact of the city on the brain.

Studies and MRI scans have shown that as little as 1 hour of walking[2] in Nature can positively impact areas of the brain and in particular the Amygdala with women showing better results than men.[3] Being in Nature supports the brain to de-stress – the brain recognises Nature and reconfigures neural stress response settings for homeostasis.

One can immediately understand that the long term benefits of Forest Bathing and Nature Connection can help to regulate brain chemistry and decrease mental health issues that arise from recurrent trauma memories by creating a soothing environment that can switch off excessive Amygdala activity.

In our next article we will look at how Nature’s Intelligence – ‘The Forest  Brain’ operates and look at how closely our brains have evolved in parallel with our other-than-human kin over millions of years.


[2] Ibid.


Happy Spring Equinox

Happy Spring Equinox

Happy Spring Equinox everyone!

Gosh, Spring is here, equal days, equal nights, and the Sun getting higher in the sky. Those very first pioneers of Spring are already doing their stuff – Primroses of course, and Celandines bright yellow sparkle, and now Alexanders coming on strong, Muscari, Blackthorn white sprays depending on which part of the country you are in, Wild Garlic is also very profuse down here, much earlier than usual. We all have our favourite first signifiers of Spring, what are yours?

In some ways it feels hard, or ignorant to celebrate the arrival of Spring when there is such unimaginable suffering taking place in war zones around the world, and a sense that we haven’t learned anything as a species, we are as destructive as ever, and it is the most vulnerable that suffer the worst atrocities our darkness creates.

The majority of us will never experience these levels of trauma, fear, destruction and loss, and sometimes we can feel powerless to change the world, despite our protests and vigils and prayers, we may feel angry, or impotent, or distressed – a kind of secondary vicarious trauma. It is vital that we make time to go to Nature, to earth our feelings, to give thanks for breath, for relative freedom: to rejoice in new life coming through, the perennial promise of renewal and hope.

In a recent Guardian interview psychedelic musician Jane Weaver talks about dealing with the grief of losing her father and how she was “looking under rocks and stones for the happy things… and how she spent an inordinate amount of time looking out the window in the morning at the birds in the trees…looking at simple things in Nature, like motifs or signs that everything’s fine – it brought home to me that you still have to live, you still have to appreciate these things”.

Sometimes we may feel guilty that our lives are relatively safe, or settled, but I believe that Nature would want us to celebrate another dawn chorus, another day to offer ourselves to the healing of our lives and our planet, with joy and curiosity and reverence for Nature’s unconditional abundance and grace. Nature proffers us this place of acceptance, of peaceful solitude, and a silent expansive quality free of the demands and constrictions of our busy lives, supporting us to come back to our centre again, from where we can be most effective and authentic. Nature soothes us. Those symbols and motifs speak directly to the heart and to the ancient solid Self.

“Out beyond the ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there” Rumi.

Crossing the Threshold – Part I

Crossing the Threshold – Part I

Every time we leave the confines of our homes and workplaces and head out into the woods we cross a threshold between 2 realms. We may consciously acknowledge that transition with a greeting, a gesture or ritual as we enter, or it may just be a feeling of relief, of loosening and softening the cords that bind, to fall into that gentle familiar embrace. Aaah! Home again.

The portal to the other world has been entered and I think part of the joy of being immersed in the deep wild forest is both the familiarity and the unpredictability – we don’t know who or what we may encounter on our way, including ourselves. If we can gently surrender to this unknown, to this as yet unveiled gift, we enter this inbetween land, a confluence of spirit and matter, and a meeting ground for mutual exchange. The threshold is represented both by a physical place, and by psychic space – stepping over is to accept the eternal invitation to the Divine dance.

Crossing the threshold can be a conscious or deliberate act of sublimation, a tentative immersion in the ‘more than human’ world, or sometimes we inexplicably fall into conversation with the imaginal realms – our half-whispered prayers and utterances heard from afar and answered when we least expect, we become some accidental Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole chasing an elusive mythical beast.

Sometimes sickness dissolves our psychic carapace, and we access these realms from our weakness and fragility, our sensitive vulnerability the perfect catalyst for en-trance. John O’Donoghue alludes to this: ‘Because we are so engaged with the world, we usually forget how fragile life can be and how vulnerable we always are. It takes only a couple of seconds for a life to change irreversibly. Suddenly you stand on completely strange ground and a new course of life has to be embraced.’

Threshold is often this cosmic ‘black hole’, drawing us into a vortex and spinning us out into uncharted territories and the terra incognita of the soul. We never return the same from a trip to the forest, consciousness is permeable, we don’t own it, it inhabits us, we are merely borrowing a morsel or fractal of it while we are here from the great swirling dust-clouds of chaos unfolding.

Think of your selves as being liquid, only liquid; (we are 60% water after all) fluid beings absorbing the forest rasps, clicks, drips and rattles; the complex quantum continuum slowing but never ceasing. That delicate micro-electric circuitry of plant cell-mycelial-fungal matrix, invertebrate hum and weathersong, all pulsating through our saline streams, currents and tributaries, our neural pathways re-aligning to source.


It is this ancient exchange of intelligences that forms our symbiotic relationship with the Earth, what Thomas Berry describes as ‘a descent into our pre-rational instinctive’ self. He urges us to seek ‘inscendence’ – the impulse not to rise above the world (transcendence) but to climb into it, seek its core. Berry talks about how our culture has entered into a destructive pathology, and suggests we sensitise ourselves to the spontaneities that arise within us, ‘not with a naive simplicity, but with critical appreciation.’ This is the role of the shamanic personality, and it overlaps seamlessly with the higher role of the Forest Bathing or Forest Medicine guide.

This shamanic insight is especially important just now when history is being made not primarily within nations or between nations, but between humans and the earth, with all its living creatures. In this context all our professions and institutions must be judged primarily by the extent to which they foster this mutually enhancing human-earth relationship.

…a new type of sensitivity is needed, a sensitivity that is something more than romantic attachment to some of the more brilliant manifestations of the natural word, a sensitivity that comprehends the larger patterns of nature, its severe demands as well as its delightful aspects, and is willing to see the human diminish so that other lifeforms might flourish.

–Thomas Berry, from “Dream of the Earth” (1988)

In a shamanic sense then we return to this notion of crossing between worlds, between 2 (or more) distinct energetic densities – matter as energy in different forms, moving from perceived solid to liquid and to ether. Consciousness as self-awareness within the corporeal form, and through our movements osmotically siphoning us from the density of concrete existence towards the lucid beauty of becoming the sacrament, not the priest, nor the recipient, but flesh offered as tender currency. Here we enter the language of ceremony, of ritual and rites of passage – of the initiate and the sacrifice of self we offer the woods.

Threshold personae

The winter threshold is I feel, particularly potent. I am drawn towards the valleys and the trees, and the leafmulch, the arching branches bare against the hollow sky, the architecture lean, unadorned and honest, winter cuts all down to the bare bones of life, and I like that simplicity, that stark monochromatic stillness. Even the sun is watered down and wan. The liminal is somehow more accessible without the technicolour glamour of the other distracting seasons. Here we stand naked and alone with nowhere to hide, being seen and tasted and bewildered in the beckoning silence. Here too the mind is stripped of artifice, our thoughts laid bare without judgment in the ‘isness’.

At the midwinter Solstice, all life pivots on a point in space, there is a quality of silence in the woods, we come into a pregnant stillness, into nothingness, into the presence of the spirits of yore, of our pre-rational past, who bear witness to a potent, hidden transformation under the soil. O’Donoghue imagines this metaphor and threshold of winter in a similar way: –

‘Within the grip of winter, it is almost impossible to imagine the spring. The grey perished landscape is shorn of colour. Only bleakness meets the eye; everything seems severe and edged. Winter is the oldest season; it has some quality of the absolute. Yet beneath the surface of winter, the miracle of spring is already in preparation; the cold is relenting; seeds are wakening up. Colours are beginning to imagine how they will return. Then, imperceptibly, somewhere one bud opens and the symphony of renewal is no longer reversible. From the black heart of winter a miraculous, breathing plenitude of colour emerges.’

Thresholds, Rites of Passage and liminal spaces have been popularised in both anthropology and psychology following the work of Arnold van Gennap and his successor Victor Turner, and also the work of William James on mystic experiences. Van Gennap acknowledges the seasonal thresholds:

“Life itself means to separate and to be reunited, to change form and condition, to die and to be reborn. It is to act and to cease, to wait and to rest, and then to begin acting again, but in a different way. And there are always new thresholds to cross: the threshold of summer and winter, of a season or a year, of a month, of a night; the thresholds of birth, adolescence, maturity and old age; the threshold of death and that of the afterlife — for those who believe in it.”

Part 2 of this article will appear in early January. Happy Mid-winter and Sun-return everyone. See you all in 2024. Lots of love from the team at Nature & Therapy Stefan and Primrose.

Happy Lammas

Happy Lammas

Happy Lugnasadh


This is probably the least known or least celebrated of the traditional Celtic cross quarter festivals, yet I think in the past it would have had great import for rural communities. The reaping of rewards for the hard work on the land, the vagaries of the weather and the dispensation of the ancient Goddesses and Gods. One of those is Lug, (or Lugh- Irish, or Llew – Welsh) a powerful character in early pagan mythology. Lugnasadh means festival of Lug and it is a fire and air festival, Lug is associated with light, also with death through the reaping of the golden corn with the sickle. It is the first day of Autumn (sorry!) and the start of the last quarter of the year. It is a time for festivals of song and poetry. Lug is associated with Odin and has the ability to see into the Underworld. He also has many associations with trees, particularly our currently withering Ash tree, and spears. In many Celtic myths Lug receives a wound from a spear, (initiation) he dies but in that process he gains in-sight and wisdom and is then brought back to life, much like the Fisher King of Arthurian legends.

Lammas is the Christian festival that celebrates the loaf-mass or in some places the lamb-mass. The first grains were made into a loaf that was brought into church to celebrate the harvest and abundance.

In many places Lugh-mass was a day of mourning, not just for the death of the corn and barley kings, but also for loved ones now passed away, and these rituals remained until relatively recent times as wake weeks.

Ian Seddons reminds us that the early fruits may taste bitter or sharp to the taste, but that we should practice gratitude for all that we have received. I have been gorging myself on so many wild foods this summer from Wild Radish to Bilberries, seaweed and Garlic, and I have been watching the hazelnuts and crab apples beginning to fill and ripen. Soon they will be joined by the Blackberries, rosehips and sloes. So let’s celebrate Lugh and give thanks for Mother Earth’s abundance, of how she provides for us all, and of how sometimes we may have a bitter pill to swallow, but let’s show gratitude for all that brings us learning and wisdom and growth, even if it means being cut down and harvested.

“John Barleycorn must Die”

There were three men came out of the West,
Their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow:
John Barleycorn must die.

They’ve ploughed, they’ve sown, they’ve harrowed him in,
Threw clods upon his head,
And these three men made a solemn vow:
John Barleycorn was dead.

They’ve let him lie for a very long time,
Till the rains from heaven did fall,
And little Sir John sprung up his head,
And so amazed them all.

They’ve let him stand till midsummer’s day,
Till he looked both pale and wan,
And little Sir John’s grown a long, long beard,
And so become a man.

They’ve hired men with the scythes so sharp,
To cut him off at the knee,
They’ve rolled him and tied him by the way,
Serving him most barbarously.

They’ve hired men with the sharp pitchforks,
Who pricked him to the heart,
And the loader he has served him worse than that,
For he’s bound him to the cart

They’ve wheeled him around and around the field,
Till they came unto a barn,
And there they made a solemn oath,
On poor John Barleycorn.

They’ve hired men with the crab-tree sticks,
To cut him skin from bone,
And the miller he has served him worse than that,
For he’s ground him between two stones.

And little Sir John and the nut-brown bowl,
And he’s brandy in the glass;
And little Sir John and the nut-brown bowl,
Proved the strongest man at last.

The huntsman, he can’t hunt the fox,
Nor so loudly to blow his horn,
And the tinker he can’t mend kettle nor pot,
Without a little Barleycorn

Ahh – Beltane

Ahh – Beltane

Ahh – Beltane
That wondrous time of the year when everything in Nature is fresh and new, when we enter the garden of earthly delights, and light fires honouring life, fertility and love. Traditionally 2 fires were lit on a hill, and the cattle were driven between them, to cleanse them and ensure fertility. This ancient agricultural practice goes all the way back to early neolithic practices and the worship of Bel, Belin or Belenus. Bel-tane means the fire of Bel. A way to honour or appease the old forest God, when trees had been cleared was to erect and decorate a special tree – hence the May pole. Belenus is the shining solar hero and was also associated with the old thunder gods; a lightning struck Oak was considered a sacred tree by the Druids.

The forest is teeming with life right now, the translucent new leaves opening out from tight concertina cases and fanning out wide to meet the sun. Many early leaves are edible (and I encourage a little gentle browsing) like the Beech, Oak, Birch and Hawthorn or May Blossom, which is prominent at this time – the Maythorn associated with the May Queen. The flowers have the glorious scent of the May Queen’s vagina, and she too is the keeper of the sacred groves. This day is the dance between the masculine and feminine celebrating the sexual energy of all life.

With an increase in Re-wilding and regenerative farming, it is vital that we invite these ancient pastoral deities to come back and sit around our fires, share our songs and feasts, and dance with us to bless the land and the harvest. We are not as sophisticated as we like to believe, and to ignore the spirits of the land is to dishonour the gifts we receive, and maintain that misperception of separation, and ignore our dependence on the soil, plants, insects and animals that share this Earth with us.

This really is such a magical time of year, – the time of the snake, the cuckoo, the wryneck, the summer visitors and the creatures emerging from hibernation or metamorphosis. What energy lies dormant within you that is ready to burst through and join the labyrinth dance, the weaving of the colours and the light. Now is a time to be creative and rejoice, and let our buds open to the sun.

References: Alan Bleakley Fruits of the Moon Tree

Robert Graves The White Goddess

Forest Bathing & Sensitivity Research

Forest Bathing & Sensitivity Research

Forest Bathing and Sensitivity Research
by Daniella Coronelli

This essay is about a research project to find out the possible effects Forest Bathing may have on sensitive people, as there is very limited research on this topic. Before entering into the project details, as a way of introduction, I would like to give a brief description of both forest bathing and sensitivity.

Forest bathing, or “Shinrin-Yoku” in Japanese, is the art of intentionally connecting with nature as a way to enhance health and well-being. It involves taking short, slow-paced, walks to mindfully tune our senses and our being into the forest habitat and atmosphere. It is an evidence-based intervention that began in Japan in the 1980’s to counteract the effects of psycho-physical and spiritual conditions emerging from modern living, such as feeling disconnected to self and others, self-centredness, addictions, over consumerism, digital overwhelm, chronic stress and anxiety, to mention just a few.

After nearly two decades of academic research, sensitivity is now recognised as a human trait, rather than a mental health condition to be treated. It is a trait that describes the ability sensitive people have to perceive and feel emotions intensely and process stimulation from the environment more deeply. According to early findings (1) 20 percent of the population in the UK is highly sensitive while more recent studies suggest that there may be three groups of sensitive people; (2) Here 40 percent of people are considered moderately sensitive, while low-and high-sensitive individuals each comprise about 30 percent of individuals and the world statistics reflect closely the UK figures. While we all have sensitive traits some people are more sensitive than others and they are strongly affected by both adverse and positive experiences in their lives. Their nervous systems are designed to observe subtleties of life while living in a blunt, over-stimulating and often insensitive world. This can translate into high levels of stress and anxiety for many sensitives, who often have to withdraw from the world into a safe, quiet space.

Forest Bathing

According to ‘Highly Sensitive Refuge’, Forest Bathing offers an optimal soothing and grounding form of self-care for sensitive people. Moreover, it has been shown that sensitive people, because of the way their brain processes information, find it considerably easy and restorative to connect with nature and appreciate its patterns, cycles and rhythms. (3) As a Shiatsu therapist, I have been working for several years with people who identify as sensitives and have developed an understanding on how to support them through the medium of touch-communication. Here in this context, I was curious to find out how sensitive people would be affected by forest bathing and what activities they may prefer during the walks. Given the lack of existing data, I was advised by the founder of ‘Nature and Therapy UK’, Stefan Batorijs, to carry out primary research to assess how a group of people who identify themselves as sensitives, would be affected by a series of 4 weekly forest bathing walks. The walks were offered free of charge to the participants. Thanks to a local company, the ‘Woodland Presents’, who promote ecological events in the forest, I was given a grant to use ‘The Glade’, an eco-building that includes an indoor and other outdoor space for people gatherings, as well as toilet and refreshment facilities.

The 4 participants (3 females and 1 male) who voluntarily committed to the 4 weeks study, were recruited via advertising in the local community, after enquiries had been received from 22 people who found it difficult to attend all of the walks.

The group were invited to participate in the walks in a local woodland, at a slow pace, while mindfully tuning their senses into the forest atmosphere. During the two & half hour walks the participants were offered a variety of invitations to help them to forge an embodied connection with themselves and with various elements they encountered in the forest, from trees, to the ground, plants, stones, river, wind and sky. In addition to exploring connection with the 5 senses, they were invited to explore grounding and alignment of their posture, breathing practices, mindful reflection and playful expression through voice and sound. We encouraged the use of imagination with visualizations as well as making collective installations through gathering and offering natural objects they had gathered in the forest and which had meaning for them. We explored poetry, group sharing as well as having space on their own to find their way to connect with the forest.

Each of the four walks followed a different trail through the forest, so that a variety of ambiences could be sensed throughout the study. The walks included a few pauses along the way, chosen as the ideal playground for the particular activities explored. In all of the walks we paused at the ‘The Glade’, either at the start or at the end of the walk. Gathering there made a difference to the study as it offered a safe and sheltered space, particularly at the start of the project, where the initial group bonding took place and the ground rules for working together were offered. Attitudes of respect and fostering a reciprocal relationship with the forest habitat, with the other than human world, as well as with each other in the group, underpinned the whole study.

Two different scales were used to assess the changes before and after each walk. A 27-item self-report HSP (Highly Sensitive Scale) measure (1997 E. Aron) and a 12-item self-report HSP measure (2020 Pluess, M.,Lionetti, F., et al) both measuring environmental sensitivity in adults, after obtaining permission from both of the scales’ creators to use in the study. The changes on both scales are measured through a 7-point Likert scale where 1 represents no difference at all and 7 measures extreme difference. Each participant was asked to fill the questionnaires online before and after the walks, anonymously – using number & letter codes. I also collected data for myself and my partner who assisted me during the 4 walks, in the same way I did for all participants. I did this as we also both identify ourselves as sensitive people, in different ways, and also because it would be helpful for the project to collect more data.

On walks 1 & 4 I used the 27-item questionnaire and on walks 2 & 3 I used the 12-item one. As well as the data from the questionnaires, the participants’ anecdotal feedback was gathered during and after the 4 walks via email. On the second walk one of the group participants had Covid, so she could not attend that walk. Originally, I was going to use only the 27-item questionnaire prior to the first and after the last walk, but after seeking advice from a researcher connected to the ‘Nature and Therapy School’, I decided to use both scales on different walks, to be able to gather more data and to see if there were differences in sensitivity after each individual walk, as well as before and after the 4 walks.

After going through the summary of the results for all the participants I made note only of those questions where there was a difference before and after the walk of 2 or more on the Likert scale. I then created a chart for each participant, showing all the question numbers as columns (1-27), and all the “before and after” data in weekly rows (1-4) – first “before”, then “after”, then the numerical difference between them. A reduced number generally indicated an increased tolerance, or reduced reaction, towards the situation the question related to. I then highlighted all the cells where there was a more substantial difference (of more than one).

Next, I totalled all the reductions that there were for each of the questions – totalling the 27-Questionnaire and 12-Questionnaire questions separately. I then created a chart in which I summarised the results for each of the questions, for all of the participants. In the 27-Question version, the following question showed the greatest numerical reduction: “Do you try hard to avoid making mistakes or forgetting things?”. Other questions with a significant reduction included: “Do you become unpleasantly aroused when a lot is going on around you?”, “Are you bothered by intense stimuli, like loud noises or chaotic scenes?”, and so on. In the 12-Question version, the following two questions showed the greatest numerical reduction: “Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?” and “Do changes in your life shake you up?”

The conclusions drawn by observing the data collected, were that the forest bathing walks had most impact in reducing the sense of pressure and anxiety that sensitive people in the study experienced when they have to do too many things in a short period of time as well as when they hear sudden loud noises, face change or chaos in their lives. It emerged that the participants were able, after the walks, to enter a space within themselves where they didn’t feel so pressured by the same questions they answered earlier, before the walk. It also highlighted that the more intellectual questions, that didn’t place them in a situation of high pressure and anxiety, showed very little change between “before and after” the walks. Questions like:
“Are you conscientious?”, or “Do you seem to be more sensitive to pain?”, or “Do you seem to be aware of subtleties in your environment?”

Being w Water x

Being w Water x

The participants’ anecdotal feedback collected during each walk revealed how they appreciated tuning their senses with the forest, the sense of being one with the forest, as well as finding their grounding there. During the invitation of lying on the forest ground one person reported how amazing it was for her to hear the crunchiness of the forest floor as well as the sound of the birds and the wind, as she had previously suffered perforation in both of her ear drums. Another person at the offering to the forest invitation, presented a small tree branch and commented how he felt the branch was alive and that he could feel and hear the story of how the tree branch originated. One person reported how she felt aroused by the buzzing sound of a bumble bee caught in her hair. And another reported how she appreciated the simple yet powerful act of walking with awareness of her feet and legs. She found it very grounding and supporting staying with her interoceptively while including other senses and the landscape in her awareness.

After going through the participants’ feedback, after the project, I have noticed that all the participants highly valued having been a part of the study. They stated that the four walks made a great difference to their sensitivity as well as to their sense of well-being. They reported feeling calmer, more grounded, more resilient to spending time in nature and more sensitive to the “Unus Mundus” experience the forest shared with them. They also appreciated the sharing and the support that being part of a sensitive group offered them as there was a sense of closeness and intimacy that had developed during the four weeks. One participant mentioned she would like to make a priority to walk in the forests, while another said she would like to return to sleep overnight in a place she felt close to in the woods. The forest invitations they enjoyed most were: spending time alone lying down in the forest and exploring being with the river, as well as walking slowly while being aware of the ground, their breath and the changes in space around them. For two participants, being guided by a partner to explore the tree while having their eyes closed was challenging as it felt unsafe. Several participants commented that their enjoyment of being in the forest was enhanced because they felt safe and understood by a sensitive guide, which was quite touching for me.

Even though this project only attracted a small group of people and it was quite a big undertaking for me, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be of service to the participants who volunteered to take part. Over the four weeks it allowed me to get to know the participants better and how their sensitivity has been shaping their lives. I am also appreciative of having been able to explore how Forest Bathing can help reduce the pressure and the anxiety of having to live with certain limiting aspects of the sensitive trait and, at the same time, highlight the gift of the sensitive soul – that ability to be sensitive, compassionate and creative in the exchange with the forest. To put it in the words of Anthon St Marteen:

“…to feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness – it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate”.

There is a high need for further research about Forest Bathing and Sensitivity, on a wider scale and with different ethnic and age groups. While I intend to continue exploring the effects of forest bathing on sensitive people, I hope that this project may also inspire other interested people and researchers to continue this work of surveying the range of benefits Forest Bathing can offer to sensitive people, perhaps to discover how sensitive people may be the best people to take to heart issues of forest and nature conservation.

1. Acevedo, B. P., Aron, E. N., Aron, A., Sangster, M. D., Collins, N., & Brown, L. L. (2014). The highly sensitive brain: an fMRI study of sensory processing sensitivity and response to others’ emotions. Brain and behaviour, 4(4), 580–594.

2. Lionetti, F., Aron, A., Aron, E.N. et al. Dandelions, tulips and orchids: evidence for the existence of low-sensitive, medium-sensitive and high-sensitive individuals. Transl Psychiatry 8, 24 (2018).

3. Riggs, G., Highly sensitive people and Forest Bathing (2019)