It is a pleasure to introduce you to Ben Page, a friend and fellow Airbnb Experiences colleague located in Southern California. Ben’s new book Healing Trees: A Pocket Guide to Forest Bathing shares an easy approach to this practice. Ben holds a deep love and connection for the natural world and this book is sure to provide the reader with numerous ways to soak in the delights of nature. Learn more about Ben and the book below! Thank you Ben for your work in the world.
How did your own personal forest bathing practice begin?
This is actually the first chapter of my book! To make a long story short, I believe every single human being is born into the practice of forest bathing, of experiencing a sensory interconnectedness with nature. Most of us, however, tend to forget how to access this experience as we become more focused on our thoughts, our work, our dreams etc. My story, therefore, is really one about remembering. It’s about coming back to the pure experience of being alive, and of being nature.
From your experience working with people over the years, how do you see forest bathing impacting the body, mind and heart?
Even after facilitating for years, working on many continents with a great diversity of people, I am still astonished at the impact this practice can have. I think the real potency is in the gentleness of the approach; it’s like the magic all stems from slowing down, relaxing, not trying to achieve something spectacular but instead simply receiving whatever is offered. I think what is really happening is the nature of our bodies is re-integrating into the nature that surrounds it, and in the closure of an imagined separation, good things begin to spontaneously flow, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I make a big point to not pigeonhole this practice as being about “human health benefits” however, as I believe this is about reciprocity in health. What I really hope for is that in cultivating deep relationships between people and places, all beings will benefit.
What are some common misconceptions you hear around forest bathing practice?
Well, the jokes among guides that have existed for years are about those rare occasions when someone shows up with a bathing suit, so I can tell you that truly no bathing suits are required. I think the other one that I see come up a lot is that many people think that nature connection excludes human connection. I sense a lot of beauty in the experience of people (even strangers) sharing in an experience of being nature. I think this is how it was for our ancient ancestors, before humans had created such a strong myth of separation. So, in forest bathing, it’s not necessarily about trying to “escape into nature” in such a way that you push away the human experience, but instead strive to see the interconnectedness and even non-separation of these seemingly divided worlds.
What inspires and gives you hope during this time of climate emergency and heightened social injustice?
This is a challenging and wonderful question, one that I don’t know if I have a good answer for. I suppose I’m inspired by how a lot of people around the world are having an experience of wanting to come home to nature, in some way, shape or form. Personally, I don’t think we need more knowledge or facts about what is wrong, but instead we must experience a reformation of the heart, such that we actually feel, and not only think about, the reality of our interconnectedness. Since we are nature, I believe we hold this wisdom within us, but like all other phenomena, it too must be cultivated and tended.
What are your hopes for the book? How can people find it and stay in touch?
I really hope people read it outside. And I hope that they don’t just read it, but they actually try some of the techniques in the book without needing to do them as they imagine I would want them to. I think the experience of forest bathing is actually really personal, and so I tried to write this book in such a way that encourages people to find their own pathways into this world. So, however people engage with it, I hope they find something that is healing for them, on their own terms and in their own context.
The book is available on the Simon and Schuster’s website, as well as on Amazon.
If anyone wants to stay tuned for future publications, walks, workshops and other resources, I’d love for them to sign up for my mailing list at www.integralforestbathing.com