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Meet the Guide: Forest Therapy with Monique Ross and Jay Ridgewell, Brisbane, Queensland

Updated: Jan 29

Like the mycelial network beneath our feet, we are all connected

The greatest gift of my nomad life is the people that I meet along the way. After spending some time in the Whitsundays with my partner Andrew who is on sabbatical to sail around the world, I headed to Brisbane to visit a friend I met in Bali, incredible artist Priya Gore and her beautiful family.

While here I reached out to some forest therapy guides to see if they would like to meet. I know social media gets a bad rap but when used for good, it can be quite powerful. I first met Monique Ross of Heartwood Nature Bathing on Instagram and at the risk of sounding like a bit of a stalker, I followed her journey from the other side of the planet in Canada, admiring her work and celebrating her successes.

I first met Jay Ridgewell of Held Outside on what would be the last Nature Talks Zoom call hosted by well-known forest therapy practitioners Geeta Stillwell in Portugal and Manuela Sigfried in Costa Rica. When they asked what "sparks" were created from the Nature Talks events, they were thrilled to hear about the Forest Guide Circle, a community I created to bring guides together to support each other, share best practices, and challenges, and network. Now with about 100 members from every corner of the globe, the only criteria for this community is that we are all forest therapy/forest bathing/shinrin yoku practitioners. Jay signed up immediately.

We decided to meet at the Roma Parkland, a central location in Brisbane accessible by train. The weather looked precarious with unprecedented heat warnings and heavy overnight rain, but eager to meet, we ventured out, and luckily, or as fate would have it, the weather gods were in our favour and we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon together. We started our walk with a land acknowledgment and heartfelt conversation about the Aboriginal and Indigenous people of our lands, our history and the opportunity to listen, learn and do better in our respective countries.

Spending slow time with forest guides is a magical experience. We touch, smell and sometimes even taste the flora, relishing each sensation like joyful, curious children, marveling at the sky, trees, and more than human beings around us. We found a quiet spot, sat on some rocks, and with our eyes closed, we quietly shared what we were noticing.

We continued our slow walk, sharing, stories about our lives and our forest therapy practices--the joys, challenges and opportunities. I learned about natural plants and other beings like dragons, spiders, giant fruit bats, and plants like the aromatic Beehive Ginger that you can wash your hair with!

We ended our walk with a gratitude altar co-creation and closed in a circle share appreciating our meeting and connection.

There were a few other Brisbane-area guides who unfortunately were not able to make it. Forest therapy is still a new offer and with the many incredibly talented guides here, I hope to see more gatherings and collaborations taking place here and throughout Australia.

About Monique & Jay:

Monique Ross guides in Meanjin/Brisbane-Yuggera and Turrbal Country

Jay Ridgewell guides in Kabi Kabi country (Buderim) Queensland Australia.

  • She trained with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy

  • With her science outreach education, she often works with families and the general public.

  • She supports a weekly well-being practice as part of the Healthy Sunshine Coast program and at Maroochy Botanic Gardens.

  • Learn more about Jay's upcoming events: Held Outside

Monique Giroux, Founder, The Flourishment Collective 
Nourish the Soul. Flourish in Life. Forest therapy. Yoga Nidra. Meditation. Reiki.

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