Monday 31st May is spring - or late May - bank holiday in the UK. It falls on the last Monday of May but it used to be on the Monday after Pentecost.
In the United Kingdom, people traditionally have a day off work or school and the banks are closed. As we creep back from lockdown status, we may not notice a Bank Holiday as much as usual!
If you have children, weather permitting (avoid woodland locations in heavy winds), it's a great day to take them out on a nature trail at a local park, beauty spot, National Trust or woodland location.
In the last 30 years, evidence originally collected from Japan but with more and more global corroboration, has shown that spending time in nature, mindfully, and engaging the senses, has a measurable therapeutic affect (see the Forest Bathing+ section of this site on the purple navigation bar above for more about this concept and Surrey events we are offering for adults). As qualified Forest Bathing+ Guides, we are able to offer some suggestions on how to engage children with nature in a fun way that will also benefit their health and wellbeing.
To appreciate the complete healing experience of nature, you will be encouraging them to stay still in places. Make sure you have lots of spare layers to keep them warm, and maybe pack a flask of hot drink. Don’t be put off if the weather isn't sunny, pack some waterproof trousers and take a waterproof picnic rug for sitting on the ground, plus some spare dry socks. You'll need some water too and I recommend a wet flannel in an old sandwich box, great for dirty hands later!
Instilling respect and care for nature means we need to take thoughtful actions for the environment such as leaving things as we find them and always taking any litter home with you.
Once you've persuaded your kids into their decent walking shoes, or even wellies, here are some ideas from our forest bathing practice to help you turn the experience into more than just a pleasant walk in the woods. Of course, these can work for adults too...
Start by turning off all electronic devices! Yes, I know, a big ask in today's society, but essential if you really want to observe the minutiae of what is going on around you.
Try to move slowly through the forest, so you don't miss anything, really encourage the children to concentrate and notice the details around them.
Find somewhere to base yourselves for a while, put down your picnic mat or take some fold up chairs with you. Take some nice deep breaths, extending your outbreath to match or even exceed the inbreath; this helps your body relax. This is especially helpful of they are somewhat boisterous, but they still need extra calming, you can spend a few minutes getting them to tense, for a count of three, and relax each part of their body. Start with the feet, ankles and knees, moving up upwards (tensing the buttocks always guarantees a giggle or two), through the chest, shoulders, arms and fists, and ending with the face. Smiling as strong as you can and then releasing the mouth and ending by scrunching their eyes tight shut and then opening them again.
Engage the children by focussing on the senses. What can you see, hear, smell, touch?
Things to see, hear & touch
Look out for woodland wildlife. If you have competitive children, you can keep a score of what you see - 5 points for animals such as squirrels and birds, 10 for deer, 1 for insects, such as beetles, bugs, woodlice and butterflies.
Watch a particular spot for a few minutes and see how much movement is taking place even on a calm day with minimal wind. Can you identify the sounds that accompany the movement?
Look at the many different shades of green, how many can you spot?
Notice the many varied textures around you. You can encourage the children to touch mosses and bark, but make sure they wipe their hands afterwards (hence the flannel). The image on the left shows Joanna and Katie (who together run Harmony In Nature) examining the texture of tree mosses and lichens at Newlands Corner, Guildford.
Here in the UK, May has been so wet and cold that the bluebells, which are usually pretty much gone by now, are still around in some spots. These have a lovely fragrance. Image above right, taken yesterday, shows bluebells at Harry Edwards, Shere.
You can suggest they imagine what it is like to be a tree, with their roots firmly planted in the ground and unable to run around.
It can be fun to make a game of familiarising ourselves with different tree species, teaching your children how to identify oak leaves and the wide canopy and stately trunk of most English Oaks and to spot the pale bark of the silver birch, and the distinctive leaves of the sycamore and chestnuts. You can revisit this activity later in the year when the acorns, twizzling sycamore seeds, conkers and sweet chestnuts are more apparent.
Persevere for as long as you feel comfortable and are enjoying the activities. Whilst an adult session should last two to three hours for maximum wellbeing benefit, for children that might be too long. Aim for twenty minutes to an hour depending on your children's age and their concentration span.
Fun family activities, especially in the tranquil setting of nature, can be really beneficial for your health and wellbeing.
For adults wanting to attend one of our formal Forest Bathing+ sessions, we have some availability left on our June & July 3-hour Forest Bathing+ Sessions at Harry Edwards (11am - 2pm, cost per person £38.32, Saturday 19th June or Sunday 18th July), Newlands Corner (10.30am -1.30pm, £38.32, Monday 7th June, Tuesday 22nd June, Thursday 8th July and Thursday 22nd July) and an exclusive out of hours event at Winkworth Arboretum National Trust (06.30-09.30am, £49.20, Tuesday 6th July).
Contact Joanna for details, costs and availability or if you would like to consider offering bespoke nature and woodland connection events at your venue or on your private land.
Through Harmony Healing, Joanna offers a wider spectrum of events designed to nurture your welbeing. If you are looking for regular spiritually enlightening activities, we have our monthly Full Moon Guided Healing Meditations. The next one is on Wednesday 23rd June, at 7.30-9.30pm (UK time = GMT +1). Participants all receive a deeply healing experience. Cost to participate is £20 by online BACS payment (small admin fee added for PayPal) or half price to RSE graduates.
During these monthly session, we connect with other like-minded people and together we work through a mindful chakra balancing process using colours and etheric crystals, with the aim that all participants will experience a degree of unity consciousness. This activity serves as a good taster of my work in general and the virtual format of our Zoom based programme. And, most importantly, it's a step towards making a difference to the global predicament.
Two RSE 1 modules start in July/August month with Khemitology on Tuesdays 20th, 27th July and 3rd August and Essene Angelology on Tuesdays 10th & 17th August. The other two modules have just been run but can be completed with the next series.
If you would like to experience one of our spiritual offerings (meditation, reading, 1:1 healing, a Forest Bathing+ session or a full mentoring course), why not ask for a Harmony Healing gift voucher for a birthday or other celebratory occasion?
Joanna offers distant intuitive readings (past life and/or aura readings) and distant 1-2-1 healings and virtual guided healing circles. We also have meditations available.
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