August 6th, 2019: Forest Therapy

“To the eyes of the man of imagination, Nature is imagination itself.” – William Blake 

Hello Friends,

         It’s been awhile since I sent out a newsletter like this, and it’s hard to know exactly where to begin. Perhaps with my name, which comes from “The Hidden Words” of Baha’u’llah. “The Tree of Anisa” (شجره انیسا) is a metaphorical tree from Baha’i literature which stretches between earth and heaven, as well as the title of a play my parents created the year I was born. That’s my dad on the left being the tree. (Nice extension dad).

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Like the words C. G. Jung wrote on his tombstone, “First, man of the earth, terrestrial. Second, man of the sky celestial” – the tree of Anisa bridges the animal and spiritual dimensions of human nature, creating an integrated habitat within which we can thrive. In many ways, trees have always been a part of my story. Some of you planted over six hundred saplings with me at Little Pond this past spring. And those of you who know my theater work, will be familiar with my habit of dragging problematic amounts of organic material indoors. Throughout a number of plays I wove furniture out of wild vines, built walls with firewood, and embroidered costumes with leaves and fur. Perhaps it’s inevitable then, that I should eventually locate my work to the forest, where trees abound and do not require interacting with UHAUL or gallons of Rosco Flamex spray.

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       Last year I discovered a Japanese-based practice called Shin-rin-yoku (often translated as Forest Bathing) and am currently in training to become a certified Forest Therapy Guide through the Association of Forest and Nature Therapy (ANFT). At its most basic level, forest therapy is a method of bringing people into forest environments so that they can form their own restorative relationship with the environment in which humans evolved. The guide helps individuals to slow down and to access the essential resources available to them within the environment. But to be honest, a lot of the benefits I have personally received from this practice go beyond pharmaceutical effects. A forest therapy walk has to be directly experienced to be understood. I hope you will join me for a taste.