Why do I need a guide?
If you are new to yoga or tai chi, would you attempt to design and perform your own practice?
Spending time alone in nature is definitely encouraged, and often times, healing. But if you have never experienced a guided forest therapy class, or if you do not fully understand the principles of forest therapy, you will not realise how different the practice is from your solo nature walks and hiking.
Trained and experienced nature and forest therapy guides benefit your practice in the following ways:
Slow Down. A guide keeps the appropriate slow pace for you so that you may simply be present in nature. Because we are so accustomed to our hurried lives, to suddenly 'slow down' becomes challenging for people. It is beneficial for you to let the guide lead you. Guides also help to shoulder your other worries such as keeping to a time schedule. Your focus will therefore simply be in the present moment.
Interact with nature. Many of us are unfamiliar with nature and we don't know how to interact with nature. On a guided class, a guide invites you to participate in nature connection activities (which are also called 'invitations'). A trained guide who understands and embodies the principles of forest therapy will be able to skillfully craft and offer you open invitations. With a guide, you do not have to worry about what to do in nature and you can fully unplug.
Commune and council. On a guided class, sharing takes place in a safe space. Frequently, people benefit from listening to these authentic sharing, and from being heard by others if they choose to share. A precious social connection is built. On your own, you miss out on this very crucial and transformative part of guided classes.
Commitment. For various reasons, we simply are not able to commit to matters that we know we ought to be doing. This is normal, this is human. By having a guide, you are making a commitment to another person and to yourself, and could benefit you by getting you out there.
Like yoga and tai chi, you can and you are encouraged to practice on your own. But having a trained and experienced guide to lead and facilitate your forest therapy practice simply eases you into the zone for a full immersion in nature.
You can look for certified nature and forest therapy guides through a worldwide locator map here.