Image: RHS Chelsea Flower Show
After the Duchess of Cambridge revealed her ‘Back to Nature’ garden at the Chelsea Flower Show this week, founder of Nature as Nuture and humanistic pschotherapist Claire de Boursac shares why we all need to get back to spending time in our own true nature.
The ‘Back to Nature’ garden co-created by the Duchess of Cambridge is one of the most eagerly anticipated plots at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. Kate says her woodland garden has been inspired by her childhood memories of time in nature as well as her knowledge that spending time among the trees has significant benefits to our wellbeing, citing the Japanese practice of ‘forest bathing. ’
As a psychotherapist and nature-wellbeing practitioner her theme excites me. In my therapy room I see the very real results of the stresses and strains of modern life and during my forest bathing sessions I witness how getting back in touch with nature provides an effective and enjoyable antidote. I also see how nature is a wise teacher and provides a way back to our own true nature.
If you haven’t yet heard of forest bathing, it’s a gentle and restorative practice combining mindful walking with ‘invitations’ – simple, guided exercises to help you connect more deeply with yourself and the natural world. Despite its name – a translation from the Japanese shinrin yoku, forest bathing has nothing to do with swimming but involves bathing in the atmosphere of the forest.
Given permission, our inner child comes out to play in the woods. I’ve witnessed grown men spontaneously doing forward rolls in the fallen leaves, responsible adults gleefully squelching in muddy puddles- I see it time and time again and it always delights me. People often speak of ‘childlike wonder’, ‘freedom’ and ‘playfulness’ when describing their experience of forest bathing.
Forest bathing is a mindful nature practice. We purposefully switch off phones and disconnect from the devices linked to our adult roles of responsibility and productivity and that is part of it. But I also think nature has her part here. Nature is accepting and permissive. In nature-based psychotherapy we talk of her as the ideal mother- always there, always available, accepting you just as you are. On some level we feel this as we spend time in nature.
Nature is a wise teacher and offers lessons in self-acceptance. More than once someone in a group has shared that in observing the dead and decaying leaves they make peace with their own aging process and changing appearance – it’s just the cycle of life after all. A young man shared his experience of having spent time with what he initially judged to be a rather weedy and insignificant little tree, not nearly as impressive as the larger more established ones nearby. Surprisingly to him, through spending time really looking at the detail of it and seeing it’s uniqueness he began to see its beauty and came to view it as quite wonderful. He was tearful as he shared this story, and how it had showed him that the same was true of him. Nature gently taught him self-acceptance.
So, why not leave your phone behind and take your inner-child for a play in the woods and see what nature has to teach you today?
Nature as Nurture runs regular group and bespoke forest bathing sessions in North London.
Learn more about forest bathing.
See our favourite eco wellness retreats in the UK.
Read Venetia Falconer‘s guide to breaking up with your phone and taking a digital detox.