Erika DiPasquale

When the forest works to break down stigmas

Erika DiPasquale lives in New Jersey, USA. She works as a children’s Book Editor in New York and has a very important “wellness practice piece” in her life as a Certificate Yoga teacher, Reiki Practitioner, and FTHub Forest Bathing Guide. She has guided for the American Cancer Society and stigma-free related organizations. Outstanding projects are on her path next fall regarding forest bathing for special needs students and medical residents. 

“I offered Forest Bathing walks to non profits that are really important to me. To fundraisers for the American Cancer Society and the Relay For Life of Paramus (NJ), and for a Stigma free organization in a local town. I felt that was perfect for Forest Bathing because there is absolutely no stigma in forest bathing and everyone can do it. 

“There were cancer survivors in my group but also fundraisers so whenever I guide a walk for an organization I try to tie the themes, or the way I design or frame the forest bathing walk around the mission of the organization. For the American Cancer Society I focused on persistence and resilience. 

“And for the stigma free walks, I was very focused on being really opening and empowering, focused on self esteem, giving people the opportunity to feel that they can do anything, that there aren’t any limits that they may perceive.

“I’m working on two projects now, the walks start in the fall. I am partnering with Paramus Recreation’s Diff-Abilities Program, a special education after school program. One of the teachers asked me if Forest Bathing would be a good option for her special needs students, and I think it is the perfect opportunity. This is with middle school kids and high school kids with a variety of special needs. 

“I was contacted by OBGYN medical residents to offer forest bathing for a hospital this fall. They are running wellness programs for the residents, as what they are exposed to can be so traumatic, so I’m very excited to offer them the opportunity to connect with nature and work through the forest some of the trauma they have witnessed”. 

Here and there

“I guided in a forest park in Brooklyn. I have a lot of friends in the city (New York) and they don’t have this much access to nature so it was really amazing to offer my colleagues and their friends the opportunity to connect with nature. 

“I also offered a walk in a beautiful garden during a yoga retreat in Ecuador. People cried… And if someone feels so comfortable that they cry in front of you, it feels so cathartic and beautiful.

“I have guided people who were not so comfortable in nature but after the experience together they really have an appreciation for everything that the forest has given them. For me it is magic. I feel it so strongly, and watching other people feeling it aswell is something I love so much. 

“I grew up in New Jersey and every summer since I was born my family has gone camping. It’s very integral to our family and never missed a year. I really fell in love with nature, I’ve always felt the best surrounded by trees. I crave all year long”. 

The magic in the forest and the books

“I am a children’s book editor and that’s my life long dream but I am also a Yoga teacher, a Reiki practitioner and a Forest Bathing Guide and the wellness practice piece, which I also love. 

“I was always someone who was really stressed and anxious and I needed ways to deal with that, so I went on a kind of wellness journey. In college someone asked me ‘what do you want’, when I was in a particularly stressful state, and I said ‘I wanna be calm’.

So then it all unfolded for me. I already had an affinity towards nature but through the Forest Bathing experience I started to understand that there was just so much more to it, so much science happening behind the scenes that was causing this relaxed and calm energy in me. After I did Forest Bathing for once, it was something I wanted to do again, again and again and something I would do on my own”.

“I found the Forest Therapy Hub and realized it was something I could incorporate in my resume on wellness offerings. I pursued becoming a guide as the perfect way for me to help others find their sense of calm

“The Forest Bathing training has impacted me in so many ways, and it actually made me a better book editor. Forest bathing helps you calm down and tune in. And having that energy shift helps me do the same thing when editing a book. I work on nature related books, children’s books, and I had to propose a nature art book. If I hadn’t had the training this book wouldn’t be in existence. I have a couple of projects related to forest bathing. It’s about that connection, the energy of forest bathing comes out in a lot of books I work on”. 

 

Ph: Courtesy Erika DiPasquale

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