An Interview with Milena McWatt, Owner and Operator of Wild Calm Forest Therapy
Please tell us a bit about Forest Therapy.
Forest Therapy is the practice of being in a relationship with the land. It’s a slow-paced science-backed practice that helps you slow down and take in your surroundings through your senses. It comes from the Japanese practice known as Shinrin Yoku or forest bathing.
What is the Difference between doing a meditative activity indoors vs outdoors?
Meditative practises done in nature have increased benefits not attained indoors. Coniferous trees emit a compound called phytoncides that increase our natural killer cells, boosting our immune system, and helping us fight infections.
What are some of your favourite places to go forest bathing within the Edmonton River Valley?
There is a wealth of urban forests to explore and enjoy within the Edmonton Metropolitan River Valley. The river valley creates a feeling of escaping to the mountains without leaving the city. My favourite locations to guide are Buena Vista Park during the evening after the dogs have gone home, Blackmud Creek Ravine and Larch Sanctuary.
What are some ways to practise more mindfulness when out in nature?
When out in nature, slow your pace and focus less on the destination. One aspect of forest therapy is the opportunity to follow an invitation given by a guide. An example of an invitation would be to explore textures. In warmer weather, take the time to feel your surroundings. When you slow down and engage with your surroundings, your nervous system will start to reset.
What are some of the high-level benefits of practising forest Therapy?
Some of the high-level benefits are an increase in mood and a decrease in anxiety and depression. It can reduce your blood pressure and help you get out of the fight-or-flight mode we all live in.
For more information on Wild Calm Forest Therapy go to their website https://www.wildcalm.ca