Nature & Wellbeing
During lockdown what struck us was how much people turned to nature. Unable to see friends or family in the early stages, or visit indoors later on, they took to their parks, local fields, and woodland areas.
During this period we developed our own nature-based wellbeing ethos drawing upon our experiences as creative enablers, forest therapists, collaborators, and outdoor educators.
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What we do at the Barn
Sessions are led by a trained and experienced forest wellbeing guide through a carefully planned sensory and creative walk in Hawthorn Dene. We use forest bathing and mindfulness techniques that seek to calm our nervous systems to enable a sense of inner peace and a deeper connectedness to the natural environment.
Why we do it.
Central to our ethos is an understanding of mindfulness, forest bathing, and creativity.
The idea behind mindfulness is that by becoming more aware of the present moment, we can know ourselves better and become happier due to enjoying the world more.
Forest Bathing or Shinrin Yoku Forest Therapy was coined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 1982. Dr Qing Li led the research. It involved taking people into the forest and conducting field experiments. Results showed that being in forest environments, in mindfully led walks, had medical benefits.
How it helps you.
The arts can be used as a tool to allow us to connect more deeply :
· Senses - tuning in to nature through the senses.
· Emotion - feeling alive through the emotions nature brings.
· Beauty - noticing nature’s beauty.
· Meaning - nature bringing meaning to our lives.
· Compassion - caring and taking action for nature.
Simply noticing ‘the good things in nature’ brings sustained benefits to mental wellbeing, with clinically significant improvements for people with common mental health problems.
A bit about our artist forest well-being guides.
Nicola Balfour is a co-director of the Barn at Easington. She is an artist, producer and creative facilitator with 30 years experience of working with community groups and schools in nature. Her practice explores the connections between creativity and nature and the positive impact being in nature has on wellbeing and recovery.
John Quinn is an artist who brings both storytelling and mindfulness to creative sessions at the Barn. He enables groups to find the story’s that matter to them and work with them to tell these stories with both fun and flare. John also leads groups through a number of creative mindfulness exercises that bring people to their senses so they can connect with and enjoy the natural environment around them.
Jyl Friggens“ As an artist and with my Forest School hat on, my workshop practice at the Barn is hands on, based on simple, safe and green techniques using natural and recycled materials.I work outside and inside, always with a seasonal relevance through this work, I love to connect with people and am passionate about enabling everyone to get outside and be in nature.”
Elaine Beard: Pilgrim, mischief maker, believer in the healing power of nature.
I try to come alongside people, to sense what they might need, listen to what they have to say, and enable them to celebrate and leave feeling lighter..