Nature connects body and mind

Spending time in nature has been found to promote health. Forestmind is an innovation system of mental skills exercises designed to utilize and intensify the natural healing effects of forests. This method uses the latest, most widely accepted trends in psychology, therapy, and coaching, including mindfulness and life coaching, in a natural setting or with natural imagery. 

Anyone can use the Forestmind exercises consciously and purposefully to develop internal mental skills that support wellness. There are more than 150 exercises. Choose the ones that suit you best and practice them either outdoors or indoors, alone or in a group. Forestmind is ideal for promoting self-awareness, relaxation, stress relief, refreshment, and invigoration.

Mrs. Sirpa Arvonen launched Forestmind in Finland at 2014. The same year the first Forestmind- book titled: "Metsämieli- natural method for wellbeing" was published. Metsämieli is the finnish word for Forestmind.

At the moment, there is over 140 qualified Forestmind- instructors in Finland. Many of them guide practices also in english. Instructors can be contacted by e-mail. The list of instructors is found here: Metsämieli- ohjaajat

More information: 

Sirpa Arvonen, arvonen.sirpa(at)gmail.com, tel.+358 405039913. 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sirpaarvonen/

Forestmind – methods basic principles:

  1. The wellbeing and health effects of nature make the forest the best place to exercise your mental skills.
  2. Everyone is the best expert for their own wellbeing. Recognizing one’s own senses, observations, reactions, thoughts, and emotions increases self-awareness and develops the skills for maintaining wellbeing.
  3. Everyone has their own relationship with nature and the forest. The Forest Mind exercises are suitable for any natural environment, including the yard or garden. The picture exercises are also suitable for constructed environments and indoors.
  4. The wellbeing effects of nature can be experienced both consciously and unconsciously.
  5. The Forest Mind exercises should be done regularly, since knowing one’s own self and practicing mental skills are lifelong processes.
  6. The purpose of Forest Mind is to increase self-awareness, strengthen wellbeing, and help you live a rewarding life, even in the face of difficulties and hardships.



Examples of Forestmind exercises:

Landscape of the mind (3 min.)

  1. What type of landscape comes to mind when you think of a relaxing, safe, and pleasant place?
  2. Picture the landscape in your mind and imagine the views, colors, smells, and sounds.
  3. What do you feel in your body? What kind of thoughts come to mind?
  4. How can you use your mental landscape as a power reserve? In what situations could you take advantage of the tranquility and peace that this place provides?
  5. Seek out your mental place or a similar landscape as often as possible.

The moss’s sparkle (10 min.)

  1. Do you recognize differences in the variety of mosses in your forest walks?
  2. Stop to admire the colors and shapes of the moss patches.
  3. Focus all your attention on the details of a single moss leaf.
  4. Curiously investigate the shape, moisture, and smell of the moss.
  5. Let your senses rest in the mossy world.
  6. Do you notice how time loses its meaning and you are perfectly present in the moment?

Practice observations (4 min.)

  1. Stop in the forest and observe your surroundings.      
  2. Focus on your eyesight, hearing, and smells when observing nature.
  3. Fix your whole attention on one thing that interests you. What do you see, hear, smell, and feel?
  4. Focus on observing and concentration on one sense at a time. If you are looking at a tree, let your eyes take in the tree from top to bottom, and zoom in from the outline to the details, including the surrounding landscape.
  5. Practice focusing your attention on the pure sensations.
  6. If you feel your mind attempting to describe, explain, or evaluate the sensations, kindly return your mind back to examining the sensations without commentary.
  7. Continue your journey and consider the sensations you’ve just experienced. How did it feel to concentrate? What made it easy or difficult? How did it feel to be in the moment?

Being present in the moment (2 min.)

  1. When you are spending time outdoors, stop for a moment.
  2. Stand on a flat surface and feel the ground underneath your feet.
  3. Choose a spot on the ground a few meters away and fix your gaze there.
  4. Focus on your breathing for 3-5 inhalation/exhalation cycles at a time.
  5. Breath in through the nose and out through the lips.
  6. Focus on the path of your breathing and its natural rhythm.
  7. At the end of each cycle, sigh with the exhalation and pull fresh air in.
  8. You are ready to continue your journey.
  9. You can do the same exercise at the end of your walk. What kind of difference do you notice in your breathing compared to the start of your walk?

The minute move (1 min.)

  1. Sit in a place where you have a pleasant view of nature. Memorize the view and the positive state of mind it invokes so that you can return to the same state of mind later in the home or    workplace with the minute move.
  2. Move your hands and feet. There is no right way, just listen to what your body needs and what feels good.
  3. Choose one move that you can do while you are observing the view of nature.
  4. Exhale completely and breath deep to refresh yourself, then continue the journey.

Conscious walking (10 min.)

  1. Slow your pace while walking.
  2. Feel your steps. What kind of surface is underneath your feet? How do your feet roll from heel to toe?
  3. Observe your bodies vertical lines. What kind of posture are you holding, and does your torso feel supported?
  4. Observe your walking rhythm. How does your head swing while you are in motion? What kind of rhythm echoes through your body?
  5. Observe your breathing. How do your inhalations feel in your nose? What about your exhalations – Which one feels warmer? How do the diaphragm, ribs, and stomach assist in    breathing?
  6. Continue walking in your natural rhythm. Think about your trip, what kind of observations did you make while walking consciously?

Watching with binoculars (2 min.)

  1. Imagine being in the forest for the first time.  
  2. Make ‘binoculars’ with your fingers and palms of both hands. Look around so that the details float through your ‘binoculars’ peacefully, one at a time.
  3. What special, beautiful, or different things do you notice through your ‘binoculars’? What grabs your attention?
  4. Move closer to investigate that detail that caught your eye. What kinds of natural forms do you see? What would you be left wondering if you had seen that detail for the first      time?
  5. What kind of feelings and experiences have the ‘binoculars’ produced in you?

Good deeds hill (20 min.)

  1. Choose a forested area in which to do this exercise.
  2. Collect some small twigs or pine cones from the forest floor.
  3. Think about some good deeds you have done or friendly words you have given to someone in the past week.
  4. Think about the small acts of kindness as well as the more substantial ones.
  5. Build a mound out of your good deeds; one twig or cone = one good deed.
  6. When you have identified 10-30 acts, exhale forcefully and breathe deeply.
  7. Look at your good deeds hill. What kind of feelings do they awaken in you?
  8. Come back to your hill after one week; make a new hill or add new good deeds to the same hill.

Transporting thoughts (10 min.)

  1. Stop to observe clouds in a clear sky or flowing water in a stream.
  2. Give all your attention to the shapes and movements of the clouds or water.
  3. Whenever a thought comes into your mind, greet it kindly. 
  4. Consider that thought for a moment: is this idea useful or necessary at this exact time and place?
  5. Decide to allow the thought to continue its journey.
  6. When you decide to let go of the idea, imagine that you are placing your thought onto that cloud or stream so that it can continue its journey.
  7. Watch and imagine the though being carried away.
  8. Return your attention back to observing the clouds or water.
  9. Continue your journey and reflect on the observations you made during the exercise.

Changing perspective (10 min.)

  1. Imagine placing one of your disturbing thoughts, worries, or sorrows on a stump or rock.
  2. Step back a few steps and watch your thought.
  3. Try seeing how the thought changes when you look at it from further away – even 50 meters.
  4. Imagine that you are watching your thought from the top of a tree.
  5. What kind of perspective did the thought take on after these mental exercises?
  6. What part of the thought or the feelings the thought awoke were diminished or disappeared due to distance?
  7. Why do you need this nasty thought or worry? What importance or truth does it offer to you?
  8. Will you take the thought with you or leave it on the stump? Will you let the wind carry it away? Or is it now so small that you can place it in your pocket?

Strength from the landscape (5 min.)

  1. Stop in an open landscape. Climb onto a boulder or hill. Stand at the edge of a beach, a field, or a hill.
  2. Breath comfortable and feel the earth under your feet. Concentrate on the moment.
  3. Imagine yourself as an important part of the land. What do you see, when you watch yourself through the eyes of the land?
  4. What kind of approval and value do you feel when you are part of the land? What strengths of the land do you also feel in yourself? 
  5. Exhale completely, appreciate the moment, and continue your journey.

Thankfulness tree (5 min.)

  1. During your forest or park walk, choose a ‘thankfulness tree’.
  2. Rest under the tree or in a place where you can see in the tree in its entirety.
  3. Think about all the things from the day that you can be thankful for. Pay attention to the everyday and small things as well as the big things.
  4. Imagine that you are placing all the things for which you are thankful on the branches of the tree.
  5. Watch your ‘thankfulness tree’ and listen for the feelings of gratitude in your mind and body.
  6. Return to the location of the tree at least once a week or when your experiences require it.
  7. If needed, you can also go to the roots of the ‘thankfulness tree’ in your imagination, even when you cannot physically visit the location of the tree.

Best for me (10 min.)

  1. On your forest walks, consider what you can do or be to give you a good attitude and renewed vitality.
  2. ‘Best for me’ thinking includes:                                                                                                           - What is best for me at this point in my life? What is best for me today? What is best for me at this moment                                                                                             
  3. What improvements were produced? What will you take with you from this walk?