Sonoma County Gazette - Experience nature’s healing with EcoWisdom forest bathing
by Spencer Ash | January 10, 2024
Forest bathing with EcoWisdom is a wonderful way to enjoy the natural beauty of Sonoma County and benefit from its healing powers. Forest bathing expert, Jenny Harrow-Keeler, leads groups on walks through the forest where people can take in their surroundings and learn to connect to the land through guided meditation and an enjoyable wine experience.
Harrow-Keeler began her forest bathing journey after a scooter accident nine years ago. She began to connect with nature to heal from the emotional and mental trauma of the accident. Harrow-Keeler explained, “I found myself gravitating towards being in nature and going to the forest by myself. It was a space that I felt less alone, I felt some deeper healing happen.”
About a year after the accident, Harrow-Keeler enrolled in a graduate program of integrative health studies. She discovered the practice of forest bathing during her studies. Forest bathing has its origins in Japan where it’s called ‘shinrin-yoku’ which means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing,” according to Harrow-Keeler. She became certified as a nature therapy guide and has been guiding forest bathing experiences since 2017, explained Harrow-Keeler.
During the forest bathing experience, participants are guided through meditation to promote well-being and connection with nature. The meditation practice is “helping people increase their awareness into noticing what is happening in the forest through all of their senses,” according to Harrow-Keeler. “Our thoughts start to slow down and we’re able to balance and bring our nervous system back into regulation and it’s deeply relaxing for folks.”
Forest bathing has been shown to help with a variety of conditions. It can help with sleep and it has been proven to help reduce anxiety and depression. It can also help reduce blood pressure. “The research is showing that ideally people are spending 20 minutes a day in nature,” stated Harrow-Keeler. “
Harrow-Keeler took her experience as director of sales and hospitality for Red Car Wine and began integrating her forest bathing experiences with wine tasting. The wine tasting is a way of further connecting with the land and enjoying what it has to offer, explained Harrow-Keeler. “I’m working with vineyards that are all utilizing organic farming methods and they’re really committed to developing and growing wine in a way that is harmonious with the land… It’s a way to get people to understand the connection of what is happening on the land that is going into the wine they are drinking.”
The forest bathing experience takes place in different areas of Sonoma County. Participants can go to Red Car Wine’s vineyard Zephyr Farms in Sebastopol where a redwood forest surrounds the vineyard, described Harrow-Keeler. Forest bathing is also offered at Bartholomew Estate Vineyards in Sonoma and DaVero winery and farms which is only available to guests of hotel Healdsburg.
Harrow-Keeler stated, “Everyone benefits from this. What I love of about partnering with the wineries and the hotels and spas is that I get to work with a really wide variety of people from every single profession and from all over the country, sometimes people visiting from other parts of the world.”