Meet your guide…

Alyse Rynor

Alyse Rynor

Despite living in a major metropolitan area for most of my life, something deep inside of me has always craved a connection with nature. My desire to help other urbanites who might feel the same is why I became an ANFT Certified Forest Therapy Guide. Fortunately, the city of Chicago and surrounding areas are filled with many natural forested areas and wonderful places to experience a Forest Bathing walk. Since so many people in cities have become nature-deprived, it's a gift to guide participants on the trails and in parks around Chicagoland. Even though my work as a Forest Therapy Guide blends well with my profession as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in private practice, you won't find me doing therapy on the trail. As the ANFT solgan says: The forest is the therapist. The guide opens the door. As a guide, I have no prescribed agenda that participants need to fulfill on a walk. Each person gets whatever they need from the forest and each experieinces forest therapy in their own way. For me, time in the forest always feels like coming home. My earliest attempt to connect people to nature began with my Certification as a Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Eating is the most intimate relationship we have with the natural world. The food we eat grows from the earth, whether plant or animal, and is one of the ways we take nature in - becoming part of our bodies. For so many years I thought I would need to live out west or in the southwestern United States to be fueled by nature. But in my work as a Forest Therapy Guide I recognize there is plenty of nature in my own urban neighborhood. I've seen foxes, rabbits, coyotes, squirrles, bats, bugs and more. I awake each morning to a mutlitude of bird songs and hear the summer insects at night. And, I've come to appreciate a fresh snowfall as much as a colorful Spring day. I find that taking time to relax and breathe as I sit under a tree in the park or on a rock looking out at Lake Michigan quickly lowers any feelings of stress I might have. I still love those other locations, but I'm more content having found all of this nature right here at home. I wonder if the forest calls to your heart? If so, maybe you'll join me on a walk. Together, let's step out of our busy urban lives to slow down and let the forest rejuvenate our body and soul.      
Ryerson Woods Conservation Area

Ryerson Woods Conservation Area

Oct 08, 2022 | 09:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M.

Ryerson Conservation Area, Riverwoods Road, Riverwoods, IL, USA

We'll meet at the Welcome Center before journeying onto the trail for a slow, soothing walk into the woods that covers less than a mile. During the walk you'll be guided through a sequence of activities called "invitations", since there is no right way of doing them. These invitations are meant to help you to experience a deeper connection to the more-than-human world, to others and to yourself. There will be various times for sharing throughout, along with deep listening, as we journey on the trail. The walk will conclude with a tea ceremony and light snacks. You will be walking and sitting, so be sure to dress appropriately for the weather. Long pants might be helpful as well as shoes that are good for uneven terrain and maybe some bug spray if you'd like. Light sprinkles of rain won't stop us. But just incase - the Rain Date will be: Sunday, Oct. 9th. At the conclusion of a walk, many people report feelings of deep relaxation, rejuvenation, less stress and hopefulness. If the forest calls to you, or even if you had never considered something like this, I truly hope you'll join us.

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