Certified forest therapist Cayla Samano assists in forest therapy guide training in Whitmore Lake Preserve. Samano, shown in Whitmore Lake Preserve, believes in the de-stressing power of trees.

Certified forest therapist Cayla Samano assists in forest therapy guide training in Whitmore Lake Preserve. Samano, shown in Whitmore Lake Preserve, believes in the de-stressing power of trees.

Photo provided by Mark Samano


Healing amid the trees

Forest bathing at Heritage Park to encourage nature connection

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published June 29, 2018

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FARMINGTON HILLS — Some people head for the beach. Others head for the trees.

When it comes to de-stressing and relaxing, Heritage Park’s Nature Center will offer up the latter 1-4 p.m. July 15 for a forest bathing session.

“Forest bathing ... seemed to be a unique experience that we thought the community would be interested in,” Nature Center Supervisor/naturalist Ashlie Smith said in an email.

Ann Arbor-based forest therapy guide Cayla Samano said that the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, is about taking a guided forest therapy walk to relax the mind and body for a greater sense of clarity, according to her website www.a2shinrinyoku.com.

Guided forest therapy walks, different from walking alone in the woods, are described as gentle and suitable for most people.

Samano said that a typical walk lasts 90-120 minutes and ends with a tea ceremony.

Samano said that the practice began in Japan in the 1980s.

“It was a government research program trying to figure out how to bring more relaxation to the really stressed urban citizens,” she said. “There’s been research and articles showing us nature connection. I think it is starting to become something that is being recognized. It is really beneficial.”

Samano said that trees produce phytoncides, which boost immune systems and bring down stress levels.

“When feeling stressed, I go out and take a walk and immediately feel better,” she said.

Smith said that during the program, people use their senses and observation skills to “bathe” in the forest around them.

“The group also gets a chance to reflect on their experience over herbal tea from wild Michigan herbs,” she said.

The Forest Therapy Workshop is designed for adults of all skill levels and will meet inside the Nature Center in Heritage Park. People should come dressed for the weather and exploring the outdoors, a press release states.

Other opportunities to connect with nature at the Nature Center include Full Moon Friday Night Hikes 9:30-10:30 p.m. July 27 and Aug. 24. The hikes are designed for ages 5 and older and cost $3 per person.

Parents Night Out! Kids Night will be held at the Nature Center July 20. The evening will be filled with nature activities and games 7-10 p.m. for $15 per child for Farmington/Farmington Hills residents. The program is for kids ages 5-11.

For Geocaching 101, technology and nature will combined for a treasure hunting game 1-2:30 p.m. July 29 at the Nature Center. The program, designed for ages 6 to adult, costs $5 per person. The goal is for attendees to use GPS technology to practice navigation and to explore hidden objects. The Nature Center will provide instruction and GPS units.

“As always, the Nature Center has a variety of programs going on throughout the year; there is sure to be something for everyone,” Smith said, adding that the Nature Center has the new Nature Discovery Trail leading from the popular splash pad to the Nature Center.

“A naturalist will be stationed on the trail on weekday afternoons throughout the summer, leading free and fun family activities,” she said.

Other activities at the Nature Center include Friday night hayrides, star parties and more.

“There are so many opportunities to get outside and have fun,” Smith said.

For all events, register at the Costick Activities Center, 28600 11 Mile Road, or at recreg.fhgov.com.

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