Claudia Tolosa Ruiz and Tanit Diego are Forest Therapy Practitioners trained by FTHub since they converged to train in Urkiola Natural Park, Basque Country. Since then their careers took a deep sense of connection with nature not so new in their lives, but professionally.
They carry forward the implementation of Forest Bathing as a public policy in the Catalan municipality of Sant Pere de Ribes, where on weekends they guide citizens from the general public who sign up for it. They have also worked with specific populations in projects to implement Forest bathing for mental health and gender violence.
Tanit is a criminologist and her daily work consists of accompanying mainly victims of sexual crimes and is the founder of “Tanit Natura”. Claudia has been trained in NLP, Mindfulness, Positive Psychology, and created “Humus Therapy”. The fascinating approach they take to the practice with uncommon commitment, professionalism and acquired experience.
Bringing nature into the professional life
Tanit: “I am a criminologist by profession, I support victims of sexual crimes, above all. I like to be of service and help people in need who have gone through traumatic or difficult situations and give them that support.
“I have always been very connected to nature, I am passionate about going outdoors, being with a lot of presence. When the pandemic hit, I started digging into ways to connect with nature and doing a lot of reading, documenting myself, and I discovered shinrin yoku.
“I came across the Forest Therapy Hub and the training really resonated with me, to be able to apply these techniques, this different way of inhabiting the forest and nature with much more awareness, in other ways. Not just going and entertaining yourself, but taking into account all the processes that can unfold and how human beings, when they are connected to nature, are connected to themselves.
“This training has been a big change for me and this innate connection with nature came out spontaneously in guiding. It changed my professional life to be able to bring these people to this new way of living, because forest bathing has become a way of life.”
Claudia: “My initial training is in Fine Arts, but the last four years I trained as a Forest Therapy Practitioner, NLP, Mindfulness, Positive Psychology and Emotional Management and Leadership Coaching.
“Almost my entire career path has been within the environment. Currently my interests are focused on being able to perform professional actions with which I can help other people. I came to know about Forest Bathing thanks to a newspaper article by Dr. Qing Li. Something resonated with me. That’s how I came across the Forest Therapy Hub and the training was a reaffirmation of what I had always known innately, that nature is an important part of maintaining our well-being and health.”
Forest Bathing, a way of life
Tanit: “It’s about always finding moments of connection with nature on a daily basis, and above all finding that calmness in it, coming down from the fast-paced world and finding nourishment and wellness in nature.
“I guide forest bathing walks on weekends, open to all public, and also specific groups such as families, couples, friends, and they are for a whole morning, 3 or 4 hours. We do different tours in the area of Catalunya, usually in natural parks. Each place brings surprising things to the participants. Each place has its own tuning.
“Currently thanks to FTHub we are working on a project in the Municipality Sant Pere de Ribes, in Catalonia, within the plan of healthy municipalities, and from there it has been proposed to offer forest bathing to all citizens. It is open and lasts throughout 2022. It is a very interesting project that we are doing with several guides trained with FTHub.
Processes in nature and within
Tanit: “In the Forest Bathing walks, without looking for it in a specific way, many processes open up. I have seen how people have connected, with a fascinating love and respect for nature, how they have reconnected to the meaning of life, beauty.
“There are people who after months tell you ‘that forest bathing walk changed my life, it awakened aspects of me, I’ve been able to progress in what really makes sense,’ that gratitude. That has such a lasting effect, the way you live your life can change. It’s the greatest gift a guide can have.
“My biggest interest in my mission is to make people aware that nature is not just a weekend getaway but that it is 24 hours with us and that there is a bond with it”.
Tanit: “And I want to call on more municipalities and public institutions to see Forest Bathing as an investment in the future and welfare for citizens and for nature, and following the project of Sant Pere de Ribes, this can reach more places, because here is the big change: these initiatives really make a big change at the social and health level, as at the level of resources, nature, urban planning, taking care of the environment. To have a grateful, connected, respectful population“.
Claudia: “Acquiring the knowledge of the method and being able to use it to restore my balance and wellbeing was wonderful, because shortly after finishing the training I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was able to put into practice everything I learned on my own skin. On a professional level I must say that I have completed my training to, little by little, be able to make a living solely from Forest Bathing applied in interventions in specific groups.
“I am also within the project of which it is already the second year, with the SIAD women’s collective in Sant Pere de Ribes, in order to work on their empowerment and emotional well-being. After last year’s intervention I decided to publish a book, Nature Journaling: Walking through my inner forest, that could be used by the collective as a support, I finally self-published it last month.
Claudia: “The changes that have impacted me the most have been in the women’s project. Last year a woman at the beginning expressed her rejection of the natural and social environment in which she was immersed, making it clear that she did not trust the experience very much but that she was going to try. Her behavior at the beginning was very sullen, apathetic, unwilling and with many fears. However, her evolution was incredible.
“In six sessions her changes were very positive, she became a much more communicative person within the group, she began to enjoy the environment in which we were, she carried out with enthusiasm and dedication the activities proposed during the week and was eager to share them with the other companions. She banished some of her fears such as closing her eyes or not wanting to go far away from where I was, when doing the activities. It was a clear example of how Forest Therapy benefits a person’s health in multiple aspects”.
Claudia: “Currently and after the training I have done in positive psychology, NLP, etc., I guide Forest Bathing walks focused on reducing stress and anxiety in corporate groups (also working on the strengths of the group, emotions, interpersonal relationships) or in groups of the general public with a more playful and less interventionist approach.
“I am working on the application of an intervention method for people who have dogs and have problems of adaptation, coexistence, communication with them. Within this method we work on Forest Bathing for the human accompanied by the dog and through the activities we work on stress reduction for both, greater empathy, observation capacity”.
Ph: Courtesy Claudia Tolosa Ruiz and Tanit Diego