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Hidden In Plain Sight: Finding Relaxation In The Woods With A Guided Forest Therapy Walk

Jul 23, 2018

Cayla Samano, certified forest therapy guide
Credit Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU

There are many ways to relax and unwind, and certainly nature is known as being a good source for that.  One of the more unusual ways is with guided forest therapy.

89.1 WEMU’s Lisa Barry takes you into the woods with the area’s only certified forest therapy guide...hidden in plain sight.

Cayla Samano leads walks at the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor, one of several Washtenaw County locations where she does guided forest therapy walks similar to “forest bathing.”

Samano, who underwent six months of training to be a forest therapy guide, says the walks involve a lot of listening and sharing.  

She mainly offers suggestions for your guided forest therapy walk, which she says is about opening up to experience of the senses and connect with the environment in new ways.

C.J. Johnson of Pittsfield Township enjoys a guided forest therapy walk at Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor.
Credit Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU

C.J. Johnson from Pittsfield Township enjoys the special walks.  She says she was looking for something non-traditional after 20 years of traditional therapy where she says she hit a plateau.  Johnson says she finds the experience somewhat challenging.

Inspired and based in Shinrin Yoku Japanese forest bathing, but incorporated with some American practices and American flavor, Samano says there is proof that forest therapy works.

Cayla Samano prepares a post-walk tea ceremony
Credit Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU

After a walk through the woods, which typically takes up to two and a half hours, there is a tea ceremony.  There’s tea made with homegrown mint and sage and a moment of gratitude.

Being one of only three forest therapy guides in the state certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, Cayla Samano says it’s a calling for her and something she loves to share…not just hidden in plain sight, but in the forest as well.

Cayla Samano celebrates another guided forest therapy walk at Ann Arbor's Leslie Science and Nature Center.
Credit Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu