Forest Therapy – Perspectives from a Certified Guide

by Editor
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This a continuation of our interview with “grey nomad” Monique Giroux in Wander’s Early 2023 issue.

After a 30-year career in financial services and the not-for-profit sector, Monique Giroux took early retirement at 55, traded in her business suit for hiking boots, and sold her home and possessions to pursue a slower-paced, minimalist, nomadic lifestyle. 

Monique made a commitment to herself in 2019 to live an anxiety-free life by finding calm and peace of mind after an enlightening experience in Bali. Immersing herself in self-study and becoming a certified Forest Therapy Guide, Reiki Master, meditation, yoga nidra, and restorative yoga teacher, Monique is now breathing deeply. She works with clients to help them slow down and connect with their inner voice and intuition through nature connection and energy healing. 

Founder of The Flourishment Collective, Monique is now travelling the world with her partner sharing stories of #2suitcases1laptop and the forest therapy guides she meets along the way. She is working on her first book, downloaded in a deep meditative state during a 9-day silent Buddhist retreat. 

She shares distance reiki with clients worldwide, supports women’s retreats, and mentors and trains new forest therapy guides. She continues to use her corporate experience as one of the female founders of the climate start-up Homes to Zero and consults on partnership and not-for-profit projects on occasion. 

We connected with Monique while she was working and playing in Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica.

Wander: Can you tell us more about becoming a Certified Forest Therapy Guide?

Monique: Forest therapy began in Japan and is known as Shinrin Yoku, meaning “forest bathing.” There are a few organizations worldwide that train forest therapy guides.

My training was with the Global Institute of Forest Therapy, based in Canada. After the application and vetting process with founder Ben Porchuk, there is an eight-day intensive training where we spent most of our time outdoors connecting with nature and each other.

A six-month practicum on forest therapy follows the training with a series of assignments that deepen our nature connection, nature observation skills, and the guiding of walks with the support of a mentor.

This year, I founded a beautiful community of guides called the Forest Guide Circle to connect forest therapy practitioners worldwide to learn and grow together.

How does forest therapy fit into your worldview?

Forest therapy opened my eyes to the more-than-human world and unleashed a deep respect and connection to all living beings.

This extends to how I relate to others by being more present, listening and sharing with an open heart, letting go of my ego attachment, and being aware of my energy and the energy around me.

We have a reciprocal relationship with Mother Earth. She gives us so much, and we can give back with love, gratitude, and respect. I felt grief after the training for how much of this awareness has been lost, but I also see signs of positive momentum toward valuing the Indigenous ways and becoming a guardian of the land.

The gifts that nature provides are available to all of us, and research confirms that slow time in nature heals and provides many physical and emotional health benefits. I believe my purpose is to introduce this to as many people as possible.

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