Milene Domingues is a Forest Bathing Guide and Forest Therapy Practitioner from Portugal trained by FTHub, after attending an introductory workshop in Lisbon. She offers through her project Ngura – Forest that Heals, one-day Forest Bathing sessions and two-day workshops in Obidos, and three-day Retreats in the Azores Islands. A place “without noise, cars or motorcycles”, where on one side of the trail there are streams with fresh water and on the other, healing volcanic waters.
She says the place is “mystical” but she has been studying and exploring the terrain for weeks to choose the best trails, areas and routes for her walks.
The first therapeutic forest
“FThub helped me concretize a dream, which is to plant and have the first therapeutic forest in Portugal, but I needed to make people aware of their relationship with nature for that. This training made me fall the pieces together to make everything come into place.
“After I did the Forest Bathing Guide training, I felt that I wanted to continue and decided to do the Forest Therapy Practitioner training. Thanks to that I met people linked to this world, which allowed me to create new and unique things, such as these retreats in the Azores and the two-day workshops, in addition to the Forest Bathing sessions.
“Normally there are two groups of people who come to the walks: a general one, people who don’t know more than having a great need to reconnect with nature. And then the retreat’s public, which is one that asks for help, is aware that they need to slow down and need help to solve problems of anxiety and work stress. They are people who are aware that they need to breathe again and slow down, aware of what they need.
Ask the forest for support in your processes
“These three-day programs are more profound, that’s where I apply Forest Therapy. It takes place in three different forests in the Azores, there is no noise from humans. In the first level people become aware of their senses – and that they have more than five senses – through different activities and experiences.
“On the second day we start introducing Forest Therapy interventions: people go to a deeper level. A relationship with nature is created and they begin to perceive that they are not alone, that they can turn to nature and ask the forest for help in their processes.
“The third day is to become aware that they are not alone, that the forest heals, where I make an approach through the trees for different pathologies”.
“The place is magical, it’s mystical, it’s pure healing. But we were there for three weeks just to explore trails. So I don’t need to do practically nothing because nature does everything.
“At some point in my work as a Guide, I understood that the most important thing is to perceive and feel the group we are guiding. To have that ability to read: what do these people need today? It is more about feeling the people in front of you and flowing, just like nature, like water, like the wind. Feeling and surrendering, and the result is very rewarding.