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Forest bathing in Queen’s Wood: ‘We’re absolutely not taking off our clothes’

PUBLISHED: 11:27 30 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:27 30 August 2018

A forest bathing session in Queen's Wood. Picture: Claire de Boursac

A forest bathing session in Queen's Wood. Picture: Claire de Boursac

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A traditional Japanese pastime is making the long journey to Queen’s Wood in Highgate next week.

Forest bathing can take many forms. Picture: Claire de BoursacForest bathing can take many forms. Picture: Claire de Boursac

Forest bathing does not, as you might imagine, involve sitting in a bathtub full of leaves.

Rather, what it does involve is simple: The act of metaphorically soaking up the restorative benefits of the natural world.

Claire de Boursac, a qualified psychotherapist from Tufnell Park, is to run a special forest bathing session on September 8 – which doubles as World Forest Bathing Day.

Claire told the Ham&High: “We are absolutely not taking off our clothes. It’s a Japanese tradition and a way of engaging with the world.

Forest bathing is about engaging with nature. Picture: Claire de BoursacForest bathing is about engaging with nature. Picture: Claire de Boursac

“We come together as a group and we start by turning all our senses up. Lots of people, especially living in a city like London, have to have their senses dimmed, just to get by without being overwhelmed. I’m a proud Londoner, I love this city but sometimes feel like that too.”

The idea of forest bathing is all about using nature to help us meditate, but what actually happens during a session?

Claire explained: “We try to think about what’s around us and really understand what we can see and hear.

As well as being pleasurable, it’s something that can really resonate - people find something they can connect with.

“Everything’s an invitation. For example I might invite people to observe a natural motion in the trees and copy it.

“All in all, forest bathing is a very gentle process. Some people feel comfortable taking their shoes off, but it’s all optional.”

Claire started running forest bathing sessions after seeing the difference the outdoors could make to her therapy patients. She runs a weekly clinic in the Queen’s Wood information hut and finds this particular stretch of woodland is especially suited to forest bathing.

She said: “The thing about Queen’s Wood is that it’s just woods! It’s just these ancient trees – no pastures or fields or interruptions – and it doesn’t get people cutting through, it’s an amazing area.”

Claire’s World Forest Bathing session begins at 5pm on September 8 and lasts two and a half hours.

For more details, see natureasnurture.com/forest-bathing.

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