Retreat and Hiking Group Programs
Have a group? Will travel
Go Into Nature will bring 1/2 day to multi-day programs to your group. We listen to your needs and dreams, and create a program specifically for you. We have the expertise, connections, experience, and genuine care, to bring your group to it's own unique meaningful and fun nature experience.
We can offer your group a day long or multi-day trip in the local Blue Ridge Mountains year round. This can include camping, cabins, in town accommodation, advice on renting or buying equipment, expertise in what is available and needed for your adventure, and a guide skilled in deep nature connection activities to make your experience in the forest unique and special. (You can read below and more in the "Women in the Wild" page to get descriptions of what deep nature connection activities through us look like.)
Go Into Nature can bring meaningful and unique workshops to your group or retreat, which are generally 3-6 hours long. Here are some examples of workshops offered:
1. ShinRin Yoku Walks. This is the Japanese practice of taking in the forest, also called Forest Bathing, that has been in the media lately due to its scientific research on the health benefits: lower blood pressure, heart rate and concentrations of salivary cortisol (a stress hormone) heightened feeling of contentment and happiness, and increased immune system function to name a few! See NPR for one example: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/07/17/536676954/forest-bathing-a-retreat-to-nature-can-boost-immunity-and-mood
What is looks like: after hiking a while casually, we gather, have a guided earth-based meditation, and I guide the group in a slow forest bathing walk focusing on the senses, often one sense at a time, sharing in a group along the way in the ancient council style. We could combine this with a mirror walk or do on it’s own. Hike back out.
2. Making a Peace Mandala with Natural found objects. After hiking out a while, we gather in a circle, do a sensory awareness meditation, moving into a lovingkindness meditation for world peace. After a short guiding description of what we will create, participants wander off solo to gather nature objects, focusing on the present moment, with awareness of what is attracting them. We gather and one by one around the circle create a beautiful (always!) Mandala out of the objects we have found in the woods, offering words as we feel led to as we create it. Hike back out.
3. Ancient Traditional Medicine Walk. Each participant will take a specific question or carry a specific task on their Medicine Walk. We spend time a bit of before the Walk clarifying its purpose for each through reflection and conversation. This is not just a day hike, it is a ceremony of sorts. Beyond that, the Walk is essentially aimless, with no particular goal in mind. The question or task you take will vary with your own needs, but the more clearly you can articulate the purpose of your Walk, the more profound its results can be. You open to the wisdom of nature. I will guide at the beginning and then leave each to their own journey. We then gather in a circle and share about our experience, either in twos, threes, or as a group depending on the size of the group. The listeners act as mirrors, reflecting back to create a safe place to share. The circle of listeners shakes rattles to cheer and support each speaker, as in the ancient practice.
4. Mirror Walks, also called trust walks. Our sense of vision is wonderful, but when we remove it, our other senses become so much stronger, more tender, heightened. The mirror walk takes away this sense and puts us both in a place of trust, and of heightened touch, smell, taste, and sound. One person closes her eyes and the other person guides her to various things in nature, inviting the closed-eyes-one to touch it, get childlike and climb on it, smell it, even throw, it etc. This walk is surprisingly profound; people love them and are awed. After a while the guide finds something special, tells the closed eyed person to get up close to it and open her eyes as the guide says, “Open your eyes and look in the mirror, this beauty is you.” The couples switch and share after each experience.
5. Embodying the Elements. (This comes from the modality called “Authentic Movement”, one of my core dance movement practices.) After a sensory based meditation, participants are guided into movement embodying the elements one at a time in the forest. We become air, feeling it from the inside, naming the different types of air and playing with being different types. Feeling what type they are at that moment and allowing the body to become it. I guide as needed, moving up the body parts. We move among trees and around rocks, becoming one element as a group and then another, solo at times and interacting at times. If there is a body of water, we often go from fire, sweeping down the path, to water, ceasing the fire and flowing or resting. This exercise is amazing, and takes a fair amount of comfort and trust as a group to move together, but for the groups that are willing, it is incredibly fun and free and deep! At the end, we choose our favorite element of the day, and share a message of wisdom to the group, speaking AS that element.