Do trees heal the mind? Find out at Kilmokea Gardens, Great Island, Co. Wexford.
Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens have recently launched ‘Forest Bathing’ a Japanese Forest Therapy known as “Shinrin-Yoku” at Kilmokea Gardens.
Forest Bathing will provide the opportunity for garden visitors to lift the spirit and calm the mind to improve our mental health which is a major health concern after a year of lockdowns.
Emma Hewlett of Kilmokea Manor House and Gardens spent her lockdown outside walking their dogs for hours and was always drawn to trees and water. She found the long lockdown mentally hard. When she was near trees and water she simply felt much better and would go so far as to say felt calm, inspired and at ease. When talking to her friends on the phone she realised that they felt similar far reaching negative effects of being locked up. She started to research this and stumbled upon “Forest Bathing”, a Japanese Forest Therapy called ‘Shinrin-Yoku’ which was founded in Japan in the 1980’s and in 1982 they made this form of mobile meditation under the canopy of trees a part of its national health program.
She signed up to a “Shinrin-Yoku” diploma online. The examiner sent her a note on completion which encouraged Emma to develop this amazing concept at Kilmokea.
“ An extraordinary result, your work was detailed, explanatory and clearly compiled; this demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of the course material. You should be proud of reaching such excellent grades in each of the assessments. It was a pleasure to mark your work, Emma”.
In Japanese ‘Shinrin’ means forest and ‘Yoku’ stands for bathing. Broadly it means taking in all of one’s senses in the woodland atmosphere. Not simply a walk in the woods, it is the conscious and contemplative practice of being immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the woodland around you, spending quiet, mindful time in nature to improve your wellbeing. This relaxation practice asks you to take notice of the natural world, breathe deeply and calm your mind. Through immersing yourself in nature in a mindful way, you use your senses to achieve a whole range of benefits for your physical, mental, emotional, and social health.
Guests of the house and visitors to the Gardens are offered a suite of tools to help them with their Forest Bathing experience. They receive Emma’s shinrin-yoku leaflet to self-guide them around the woodland garden. During this experience guests enter the woodland and are greeted with a QR code which brings them directly to Emma’s introductory short video. They are then encouraged to turn off their devices to give themselves the best chance of relaxing, being mindful and enjoying a sensory woodland-based experience. They find beautifully created ‘reminder signs’ placed around the woodland. They are encouraged to stand still in nature and listen to the sounds of the woodland. To find a perfect spot to sit a while and connect with nature and to wander and explore and take their time and to deliberately walk slowly, running their fingers through leaves and branches, and focusing their eyes on the trees and scenery. They are prompted to stay in one place for at least fifteen minutes, using their senses to explore the present moment. This is “Embodied Awareness.” To complete their experience, a Tea Ceremony seals the reconnection with nature and themselves and they are encouraged to indulge in the gorgeous Tea selection in the Conservatory Café to reflect on their calm and ease.
Kilmokea Gardens are open from 10am to 5pm daily from Wednesday 2nd June to 31st August and from Thursday to Sunday in September & October.
Garden Entry; Adults €7.00. Seniors €6.00 Children U14 €4.00. Family ticket (2 Adults & 2 Children) €20.00
Country House accommodation & Self Catering cottages are open from 2nd June for the 2021 season.