A huge thank you to Hudson Swan for joining me on a special forest therapy walk with friends to capture the essence of a walk with his fabulous photographic skills. Do check out his website. He’s now offering one to one tuition. These are all his photos below.
An everchanging multicoloured carpet greets my eyes as I wander the paths in Dartington’s wildly graceful gardens. As fast as the gardening team can blow it clear the extraordinary variety of leaves descend from the trees here to re pattern the ground again. Even on dull days in autumn the ground in the woods or garden lights up my heart through my eyes. It can even leave me a little giddy as the colours seem to glow and shift, like a kaleidoscope. Perhaps, as they decompose the leaves release their last essence as light. They are definitely a delight to the nose, particularly oak leaves. They have a warm deep scent which I’ve been told contains pheromones inviting us to slow down, gather our nuts for the big winter sleep. Good smells also encourage me to breathe deeply, helping me to relax and come into my body. I notice how I’ve been holding my breath and the tension across my back and shoulders. Probably a reaction the voice inside that’s always pushing me on with “musts”, “shoulds” and “got to”. Rush, rush, rush.
Recently while guiding a group of forest bathers on a windy day I noticed how the sound of the wind was bringing me off balance, tempting me to rush through the guided invitation I was delivering. To counter this, I began to feel strongly into my feet and the earth beneath them, wondering as I did so, if the trees around me were doing the same to keep rooted as their crowns swung wildly in the wind.
Giving myself time and space to notice what is around me. To stop and touch, greet and listen to the many non-human residents of Dartington Hall’s gardens, woods, river and meadows is so restorative and in that essential to my well-being as much as my pleasure. I am so grateful to have this place in which to work and play, and to share my love of it with you.