Prague Forest Hub Invites You To Wash Away Your Stress With Forest Bathing
The Forest Hub invites city dwellers to reconnect with nature and explore the natural beauty of Prague through tailor made forest bathing experiences. Photo credit: Robbert van Tilborg.
Prague, 11 May (BD) – Spring has well and truly sprung. Parks are once again flooded with picnic blankets, daffodils and ice cream trucks. Even if you’ve felt the rush of serotonin from 8pm sunsets, it’s all too easy to take Prague’s natural beauty for granted. When was the last time you truly stopped to smell the roses?
The Forest Hub, a new organisation based in Prague, aims to give city folk the opportunity to switch off and soak up the beauty of nature. Their unique forest bathing experiences, hosted in natural spaces around Prague such as Divoká Šárka, are designed to help people release their stress and feel more grounded in the present.
So what exactly is forest bathing? I spoke to organiser Robbert van Tilborg about what to expect if you want to try it out.
“Forest bathing is the practice of mindfully connecting to nature through your senses. You listen to the rustling of leaves, you notice the fresh air you breathe in, you observe the shapes, patterns, colours, movements and smells of rain, soil and trees.
It’s a kind of meditation. You centre your thoughts on the present moment in the forest, allowing your other thoughts to disappear.”
According to Robbert, it takes some practice to fully disconnect. “We don’t always get a lot of opportunities to do this every day. We can become so used to our surroundings that we tune them out. But you can do exercises to train yourself. Forest bathing really taps into our (often neglected) need to be with nature. I like to think of it as a massage for your brain.”
The concept of forest bathing was developed by Japanese scientist and global expert in forest medicine Qing Li, who conducted most of the research around the effects of the practice.
Forest bathers experience better sleep, lower blood pressure, lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and even stronger immunity. People also report feeling an improved focus, creativity, and general sense of wellness.
Each forest bathing event is adjusted to suit the people taking part, whether it’s couples, friends, groups or individuals.
“It’s important that you feel at ease during the whole experience. Before going, you fill out a little survey about your personality, meditation skills, walking abilities. That helps me to make the experience more tailor-made to your needs and wishes.”
Robbert develops each session to help participants achieve their own goals. “People’s motivation is important to me. If someone says they really want to work on their friendship for example, we can do exercises like finding “treasures” in the forest and giving them to each other, explaining why we choose these treasures for each other and why we give them.”
There are certain exercises that can help everyone tune in to nature. For example, at the start, Robbert explains the key principles of forest bathing, and helps the participants build trust and get to know each other.
This is followed by various activities to isolate your senses and focus only on what you see, hear or feel. Every element of the forest is incorporated, from trees and rivers to moss and soil. At the end, participants reflect on how they feel and what they’ll take away to try next time they go for a walk.
If you’d like to try it out for yourself, The Forest Hub regularly hosts free, introductory forest bathing sessions with a limited number of spots, which tend to fill up. Or, if you’re looking for a more personalised approach, you can fill in the survey on the website to develop your own unique forest bathing experience with Robbert.
To stay up to date with The Forest Hub, you can find them on Instagram.