The originally Finnish Metsämieli (which literally means, Forest Mind) method aims to develop one´s “mind skills” using nature, and specifically the forest, as the backdrop with already built in mechanisms to improve ones health and mood.
Nature has been proven to improve our health through different ways. Lowering blood pressure and stress hormone levels in our blood, boosting our immune system and improving our mood are just some of the proven benefits we can enjoy after spending some time in nature. Furthermore, studies show, that being exposed to nature or natural elements can affect our emotions and even behavior.
Metsämieli-method is harnessing these benefits and using the forest as a gym for both body and mind. Therefore, the Metsämieli-method includes exercises that help us to relax and de-stress, rejuvenate and re-energize and therefore support our mental and physical wellbeing. Some of the many Metsämieli-exercises can also be done at the office or in a park, though the best results can be had in the forest.
More information about Metsämieli method can be found here.
Forest Mind is for anyone wanting to take some time off from our busy urban lives. That´s what these walks are also about: a breather and moment of quiet to listen to the nature and to yourself. Forest Mind is especially useful for people battling with stress or in the risk of burning out, or for Highly Sensitive People (HSP) it as does not overload us with stimuli but makes us relax. In general, my walks are accessible for all people who want to experience a different kind of peace of mind, while being outside in the fresh air, moving and without having to do much effort.
What does a Forest Mind walk entail?
Although I am a nature guide, Forest Mind walk is not a traditional guided nature tour (wandeling met een natuurgids). And although the focus of Forest Mind walks is not on learning about nature, I am happy to attempt to answer any questions you might have about the surrounding natural environment.
As we walk, we take the time to notice details in the surrounding nature. We stop to look, to touch, to listen, to smell and even to taste. We do exercises to pay attention to the nature by using all our senses.
When we are tuned into the forest, we can hear ourselves better as well. The exercises we do are short and simple and are inspired by mindfulness, shinrin-yoku (the Japanese word for "taking in the forest air" or "forest bathing"), coaching and positive psychology and make use of the natural elements, the trees, leaves, water, and everything else around us as inspiration.
We work alone, in pairs and in group, but all the work you do, is for yourself. After all, according to the Forest Mind/Metsämieli philosophy, we are all experts of our individual wellbeing.
In Finnish, we say: "Älä parjaa älä pauhaa, älä riko luonnon rauhaa".
In essence, it means we do not disrupt the peace in the forest by making noise. This thinking is central in Finnish culture, where forest is seen as a place of refuge and where we enter the forest as we would enter a church: quietly and with respect.
Our days are so filled with noise and sounds, at Forest Mind walk, we create a moment of peace. We do our Forest Mind work as quietly as possible, to allow us to take in the silence. If you want to bring your children along, you are welcome to do so, but with the understanding that an essential part of Forest Mind is enjoying the peacefulness of the forest. Therefore, you are responsible for your children who will then also learn to respect that quiet. The exercises can be adapted for children as well.
Every Forest Mind/Metsämieli walk will be different. Not only because of the weather and the natural elements that often provide unexpected inspiration, but because of the people who participate in the walk. Though the forests and themes of the walks might change, the focus of my walks is always on finding a moment of calm in our busy lives, hearing ourselves and our thoughts better in the quiet of the forest, and leaving refreshed and re-energized. And creating the readiness and need to come back for more, alone or together.