Bathing in the Carlington Woods

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go…into the woods

Petula Clark famously sang about the lure of downtowns—the neon lights, the glamour, the hustle and bustle—but sometimes that’s the last thing you need. Sometimes, all you need is a walk in the woods.

Forest bathing—based on a Japanese health and wellness practice—is something you’ve probably done: gone for a walk in the woods and felt better afterwards. You don’t need to travel to exotic overseas locales, or even to the Gatineau Hills. There are plenty of urban forests in Ottawa to choose from.

On June 16, 2019, under brilliant blue skies and sunshine, Certified Forest Therapy Guide, Andrea Prazmowski led a walk in the Carlington Woods, a young, healthy forest perched on the edge of central Ottawa’s highest natural look out point.

Forest bathing is designed to be slow. You don’t charge through the woods, intent on getting your heart rate up. And although each forest therapy session is different, depending on the people and the place, you’re always invited to listen, smell, see, feel and touch; to open up all of your senses and immerse yourself in the forest atmosphere. And if you find your mind drifting off, away from other concerns, so much the better.

At the end of the two-hour walk, over tea made from Andrea’s garden mint and the leaves of one of Carlington’s many raspberry patches, participants gathered to share their thoughts.

One woman, who’d come from Greely, said that when she woke up that morning she thought about staying home and “just eating all day instead.” She laughed. “Then I thought, ‘I can’t do that.’ So I persevered and I made it here.”

A local resident who happened to be jogging in Carlington Park that morning decided to join in on the spur of the moment. It was a lucky thing he did because he spotted a grass snake!

“I’d been wondering what forest bathing was for about two years. I knew I would relate to it,” said a woman who’d come from Almonte for the event. “I’m also pleased to see young people interested in this. It’s great.”

Owen Clarkin, who led the Tree Discovery Walk in Carlington in May, spent part of his Father’s Day on the forest therapy walk. “It reminded me that sometimes the slower you move, the more you see: you notice birds, mammals, insects, tiny plants that otherwise would often be missed if just walking through the forest,” he said. “I was quite impressed with the terrain and rocky slopes of the section we explored.”

The Friends of Carlington Hill organized the event and would like to thank Andrea Prazmowksi for guiding the forest therapy walk. Contact Andrea at: http://www.foresttherapyottawa.ca/foresttherapyottawa-guide-prazmowski.html

This event was supported by a grant from TD Park People.

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