Julia takes a break from the computer screen to go Forest Bathing...

Promotional image for Sussex Forest Bathing

"I’m going forest bathing on Saturday and need a pair of wellies - can anyone help please?" Cue peaks of virtual laughter from my friends WhatsApp group accompanied by offers of snorkels, swimming costumes and wetsuits. My rambling explanation about bathing my mind rather than my body in nature met with a barrage of emojis. I’m as far from a dippy hippy as you’re likely to get but had somehow found myself signed up for an hour of karmic cleansing...

Photo of a tree and a pond

I got the wellies and rocked up at Pells Pond in Lewes to meet the lovely Amanda who was the sole reason I’d signed up for the Saturday morning shenanigans; I’d been to a chocolate workshop and laughter yoga that she’d hosted and knew that anything she arranged would be fab and a total experience. I wasn’t wrong.

As kids screeched around the pond on bikes it would be fair to say I struggled to imagine how zen the morning was likely to be, but within minutes I was admiring the beauty of the trees and the water. Not entirely in the moment, I wondered what the grannies promenading round the pond made of the three middle aged women, with their wellies dipped in the edge of the pond, listening to the wind...

We foraged for an offering to give to a ‘sentinel tree’ and broke off the path around the pond into the adjoining woods, giving thanks to the trees for letting us in and waiting for our vibrations to settle so we didn’t disturb the forest. Sounds completely crazy writing that but you know what, it felt amazing, like I was leaving behind all the pandemic stress of the past 12 months and going on an adventure in the forest within my own mind.

Photo of a forest

Amanda has the most soothing, hypnotic voice, ideally suited for reading bed time stories to insomniac children, and she wove her magic over me as we imbibed the very essence of the forest. She encouraged us to feel the coolness of the vegetation underfoot, digging through the layers of humus with a stick, burying our hands in the damp soil and inhaling the mushroomy scent. We fondled (oh that sounds so wrong!) a willow tree, absorbing the healing properties of the bark and I kid you not, the headache I’d been nursing for days (the joys of home working from a laptop screen) seemed to lessen its hold as Amanda bewitched us with forest lore.

Photo of a tree

Choosing a tree that beckoned to us, we ran our hands over the branches, soaking up the textures of the moss and rested against the limbs of the trees, breathing in the verdant smells. I found myself draped over a branch, sloth like, totally at one with nature, released from the humdrum rhythm of everyday life.

It was a total wrench to leave the forest, with Amanda as a guide I could have communed with nature for hours; it was an incredible experience. I am now proud to say I am a tree hugger and can often be found stroking a leaf or gazing skywards at a spreading canopy. Sign up for a forest bathe and join the hugger club too - you won’t regret it!





  1. Astrid
    Yes, I went along and tried the session today and it was just as fantastic as you have described. A marvellous reboot after a week working from home, staring at my laptop screen.

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