Joanna Waścińska and Przemek Węgłowski got married a few weeks after Certifying as Forest Bathing Guides trained by FTHub.
She was studying polar regions as a Geographer, he was touring with his band Tides from Nebula -you will want to check that one out-. The pandemic, a bunch of books about Forest Bathing, and the first Poland training for Forest Bathing Guides got in their way. A fire that started burning upon returning from the training in Bialowieza forest led them to ignite Moc Lasu (The power of the Forest).
Przemek’s blend of bassists’ low profile and fierceness had him working also on Psychological Management. Joanna’s interests for nature and people made her quit her jobs in ministries and offices in the center of Warsaw. It all started and just got growing: they created Forest Bathing walks for couples.
Powerful stories through the story of a quite uncommon couple that gives workshops and also guides families, teenagers, adults, women, elderly people, workers of corporations in different dreamy forests of Poland like Las Bielański (near the city center in Warsaw) and Puszcza Kampinoska (Kampinos National Park).
They speak as they guide: intertwining phrases as if dancing a respectful well-paced dance with words. And Forest Bathing, they say, “it’s kind of OUR thing”.
Psychology, Geology and the Forest call
Przemek: I studied Psychology in Management, so I had a bit of the taste of the different ways of using psychology in our lives. I am a musician, my work is music and arts, I play bass and guitar, and have a band. We are touring, have some albums, and everything went that way.
Joanna: I was studying physical geography -polar regions, Siberia-, but I was interested in connecting nature with psychology. I heard about forest bathing, then I found a book in the library, and I heard about the first training in Poland and I thought, “Why not?”. I was working in a corporation, then in a ministry, and I resigned. I wanted something new, connecting with nature and people.
P: My wife is from a small village in southern Poland, and I am a city man. When we moved together in Warsaw, having jobs in the very city center was hard for her (J: « I had no hope, I thought that all my life would be like that »). She went to the neighbourhood park and she had her own tree. That was the start of Shinrin Yoku, though she didn’t know. Then when she read about Forest Bathing told me she wanted to move her life in that direction. Covid started, all tours were cancelled, and the training in Bialowieza was worth it. We felt very inspired. Going back to Warsaw in the car, I remember the energy we had, it was like fire energy, like “we are starting this”.
Date in the forest: a new way of looking at each other
Joanna: It was something new back then in our country, we were among the first group of Forest Bathing Guides in Poland, it was hard but now it’s becoming better known. So we founded Moc Lasu, which means Power of the Forest. We wanted to use that energy, the fire was still burning and it still is. We are very happy that we kept this fire alive.
Przemek: This is the idea, we wanted to use the fact that we are a couple. After the training we got married, and we started offering Forest Bathing walks for couples. We love guiding together.
J: Despite the focus on the relation between one person and nature, we focus on the relation between 2 people. This is a walk for pairs and the activities are crafted for 2 people.
P: On this type of walks there is a lot of space for the individual mostly at the beginning. At a second part we propose the activities for both. It is a very sensitive atmosphere. If you are in love or even if you are in a crisis and you come for a walk with us, it works. It softens things.
Joanna: It is very nice because people talk to each other during the integration moments, like “I saw you differently, this is new for me”. And it is powerful because there are other couples. And we are not just observing but participating. This is the advantage, we can blend more into the group. We are having interesting experiences too.
Przemek: There are lots of inspirational cases. I remember one pair that was in a crisis, and they built a house with sticks, they started building it together without any communication. I remember their faces, the energy, the happiness they had when realizing they were both building their home. They felt they were not just sticks. It was something else.
J: The forest is non judgemental. It’s perfect for health, mental health, for a person but also for a relationship.
P: I like this idea of going to the forest with someone you love… even silence is all right then. There’s no need to talk and you feel alright with it.
Teenagers, seniors, women and Polish men
Joanna: We are cooperating with the Botanic Garden in Warsaw, and have a project for working together offering Forest Bathing walks for the elder during the week. And we are showing Forest Bathing to everyone. We made a workshop for the headquarters of the city forest, and the Kampinos forest. We guided elder, corporations, families and children.
Przemek: Teenagers are so stressed. We loved guiding this 30 person group. It was really good. Teenagers are like adults but not narrow-minded, they can focus, but they have this very open mind, you can form them. And with elder people we found they were talking all the time, we found out how much they needed to talk.
J: Sometimes when I’m in the mood I organize groups for women. There is a lot of crying, smiling, laughing. Generally women feel more open when there are no men around. But I need my own strength, mentally and physically to do that. It’s the hardest because of the emotions we share, similar experiences and dramas… Przemek wants to guide Forest Bathing walks for men.
P: But Polish men don’t speak much, we have this « very thick skin ». And Men’s circles are getting popular and maybe I will organize this. I will have to scratch with my five fingers.