Throughout her life, Liz has travelled extensively spending many transformational years living in India, trekking the Himalaya, attending silent retreats and personal development courses, taking her on a fascinating journey of self knowledge and understanding.
Originally from Lancashire, UK, Liz emigrated to California in 1987. She subsequently lived in the Netherlands before returning to Lancashire to study Law and French. This took her to London where she practised law for 11 years but a career for life as a real estate lawyer was not for her!
In 2012, Liz trained to teach mindfulness. She taught mindfulness in India and the UK and had a busy private practice working with individuals and corporate groups.
However, Liz was drawn to find a practice that combined her extensive learning with her love of nature and is now living her true purpose as a Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide (trained and certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy).
As a guide (not a therapist), Liz helps participants to slow down, to bring attention to their body and their senses, and to the place they are in. A sensuous exchange between the participant and the forest opens the gateway to deeper, more heartfelt relationships with ourselves, with others and with the natural environment.
Liz offers guided forest bathing walks one-to-one and to public, private and corporate groups on the Broughton Hall Estate, Skipton, Yorkshire, UK and she has also guided walks at Gisburn Forest and Browsholme Hall, both in the Forest of Bowland (AONB), and Hagg Wood, Burnley.
"The pure magic of forest bathing. Liz is an intuitive and tuned in facilitator who put me back in connection with nature in a 2 hour process. An utterly enriching experience which I can’t wait to do again" Malcolm Stern (Group and individual psychotherapist and Co- Director and Co-founder of Alternatives at St James' Church in London)
What is Forest Bathing?
Forest bathing (or forest therapy) is much more than a walk in the woods and you don’t need a swim suit either!
Forest bathing derives its name from the Japanese practice shinrin-yoku meaning ‘bathing in the forest atmosphere’. The name was coined in the early 1980’s as a marketing exercise to encourage people to spend more time in nature at a time of increasing ill health; when Japan was moving from an outdoor culture to more of a tech-based indoor culture.
On a forest bathing walk, Liz follows a standard sequence originally designed by Amos Clifford who in 2012 formed the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy. Clifford was inspired by the practice of shinrin-yoku and added to it elements of his own life experience: he’d been a psychotherapist, a vision quest guide, a Zen practitioner and a wilderness guide.
Relationship with Ourselves
A typical forest bathing experience involves a slow and gentle 2.5 hour walk in a natural setting covering a distance of less than 2km.
During this time, Liz offers a series of optional invitations that are designed to heighten sensory awareness. Being so, our experience becomes more embodied, rather than cognitive. Critical analysis and self-judgment begin to ease.
We are not dwelling on the past or anxious about the future. Sensory experience only happens in the present. We begin to appreciate the joys of simply being.
Relationship with Others
With many more people now working from home, (and it sometimes being difficult to decide if you're working from home or sleeping at the office!), ensuring successful home-working is a priority. And whether or not you are working remotely, restrictions around social distancing lead to feelings of disconnection whether from your co-workers or more broadly from friends and family. Feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression can start to creep in.
At present (August 2020), we are permitted to gather outside in groups of up to 6 people. And on a forest bathing walk, there are times when we gather, share and listen to each other in a non-judgemental space. Being seen, being heard, having an empathetic conversation in these times can be immensely supportive.
Relationship with Time
Whether we are thinking about what we need to do, ruminating on what has passed, being in the moment is a privilege denied to many! And working from home there's the additional pressure of feeling the need to be busy 24/7. With the boundaries between home and work beginning to blur, switching off becomes more and more challenging.
A forest bathing walk is an opportunity to slow down: we have nowhere to go: we are not in a hurry. When we slow down, stop the busywork, and take in the natural surroundings, not only do we feel restored, but our mental performance improves too.
Relationship with Nature
To fix the climate crisis, the wildlife emergency, to halt the pandemics, we need a new, more connected relationship which recognises there is no wellbeing without Nature’s wellbeing.
Re-establishing our Nature Connectedness comes through meaningful engagement with Nature. The University of Derby has identified five distinct practices which activate that engagement: tuning in through our senses; engaging with our emotions; appreciating beauty; celebrating meaning; and activating our compassion for Nature.
Forest bathing encompasses all of these five practices. We begin to develop a meaningful relationship with Nature which deepens by returning again and again throughout the seasons.
Why Forest Therapy?
Physiological Health Impacts: such as more energy, better sleep, enhanced immunity, healthy digestion, reduced inflammation, lowered blood pressure etc
Mental Health Impacts: such as increased focus, enhanced creativity and memory, less stress and anxiety, improved mood, feeling more relaxed etc
Emotional Impacts: such as feeling more connected, more alive, more present, more joyful, feeling more willing to forgive, to love, having more of a sense of perspective, purpose, wholeness etc
'Liz guides gently, with wisdom, kindness and humour.
Give yourself a gift, and join her.’
Debbie Kennedy, Forest Bathing Walk Participant