When I first applied in 2015, I was one of two people who had applied to use these parks for guiding tourist groups. That number has risen over the past few years, and there are a few people doing it without a proper permit...tsk tsk.. So this year they are asking all service providers who apply for the permit to attach an "Explanation of Services" to give the CRD a better idea of what is going on in the parks and if it is an appropriate use of public, taxpayer funded space. Below, is that very letter I wrote.
~~ My services could best be described as “Hiking with a purpose beyond exercise and a few nice photos”. Forest Bathing (or shinrin-yoku) is the practice of enjoying ones natural surroundings on a more focused, sensory level. Some people incorporate yoga, tai-chi, breathing patterns or meditation into their personal practices of forest bathing, and some simply enjoy a slow-paced walk on a quiet trail. Much like yoga, there are many different ways to practice Shinrin-yoku and no real way to do it completely wrong; simply being present in a natural setting without staring at your phone is enough to ‘qualify’ as Forest Bathing. Many of my guests have practiced this before, and some are being introduced for the first time, but all have told me they truly enjoyed the experience and really needed it in their life at that point in time. Two recent guests were a mother & daughter who had recently lost their husband/father. The daughter told me after I dropped them off how great of a bonding experience it was for the two of them, and something they would remember for a long time. It makes me quite proud to know that my service is more than just a walk in the woods.
I don’t require all my guests to fully participate in all aspects of Forest bathing that I offer. It’s usually easy to tell who will be receptive to it, and who would rather just be hiking and taking in the view. There are a few invitations I extend to the guests through the day to help them indulge their senses in the natural world. Some guests are from very different parts of the world, and are quite excited to be on the trail, so these invitations help them to slow down and enjoy the moment before it’s all over and they are back in their hotel room, or on a plane flying home. Listed below are the bigger elements of Forest Bathing I utilize with my guests.