- You spend most of your time sitting at your desk, hunched over your keyboard and staring at your computer screen. You stare longingly out the window at the un-inspiring concrete jungle, just wishing you could spend more time in nature.
- You love your social life and you love hiking with your friends on the weekend. But you long for quality time spent alone within a safe space that allows you to rest and recharge.
- You long to have the space to truly disconnect from your phone and be able to reflect on the deeper questions of life. You want to return home with a kind of openness and peace that allows you to feel rebooted and renewed for the days and weeks ahead.
If this sounds like you, don’t worry, you’re not alone!
For years I have wondered if I’m the odd one out to constantly feel like I needed something else to feel truly alive and well… Until I discovered forest therapy.
My name is Amanda Yik, founder of Shinrin Yoku Hong Kong and a Nature and Forest Therapy Guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs.
I curate and guide forest bathing and nature connection sessions in the lush, green space that surrounds Hong Kong’s concrete jungle. Tapping into my previous experience as a commercial lawyer and a senior NGO manager in corporate responsibility, and drawing from two decades of combined experience in yoga, tai chi and mindfulness practice, I craft highly relevant and personal experiences that support busy urbanites to reconnect with nature, and find peace in our fast-paced life.
Discover my Forest Therapy story below….
As someone who’s always been fascinated by nature, my fondest childhood memories are of time spent outdoors in the New Territories, and summer excursions to Lantau Island.
My grandfather and my dad are both outdoor enthusiasts. Seeing photos of them swimming, fishing and hiking never fails to put a smile on my face.
Growing up in Hong Kong as a teenager I somehow derailed and ended up spending endless hours in shopping malls because that’s what my friends did. I felt bored and trapped, but didn’t know what else I could do. Luckily, as I started working I discovered hiking, and found solace in nature on weekends. No matter how busy and stressed I was, the moment I stepped on the trail I would feel like myself again.
Gradually, I began to seek out bigger, overseas multi-day escapades in search of idyllic quietude and breathtaking landscapes.
While I love mountains I also had a yearning to connect with the ocean. Having done dragon-boating for years it was one summer in 2007 that I started outrigger canoe paddling, a sport that allowed me to learn to connect with the rhythm of the waves. I began racing competitively and the thrill of sharing the ocean with a team made me really happy.
The turning point...
However, it was at this time that I was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. Life threw me the biggest irony - when I thought I was at my fittest, my body completely broke down.
Two years of invasive treatment followed. Surgery, chemotherapy and target therapy forced me to slow down and be still. My body was wrecked. All my energy could afford was walking across the road to the park for a stroll.
But it was through these slow, gentle strolls in my community park that I discovered how I could enjoy nature in a completely different way . Finding a quiet seat under the tree, allowing my eyes to relax into a gentle focus, breathing in the damp, morning air, bearing witness to the changing colours of the leaves.... gave me the kind of comfort and grounding that nothing else offered.
Not only did nature show me how to be in the moment, to inhabit my body, to come to terms with impermanence, it also showed me how I am an integral part of nature herself.
My new way of being...
Eventually my body adjusted to a new normal. No longer was I running half-marathons or racing in canoes. My body longed for wholesome grounding and effortless expansions, rather than exertions and adrenaline rushes. In fact, a whole new world has opened up to me - a new way of being and experiencing our surroundings. I began to nurture a personal relationship with the wondrous nature that holds us in ways we never fully appreciated.
Discovering Forest Therapy...
One day I was browsing the internet and I stumbled upon an article on forest therapy. Intrigued by the term, I started looking into it. As I read on, I was overjoyed to find that my renewed relationship with nature was not unlike the processes used in forest therapy. A few months later, I decided to get trained to become a Forest Therapy Guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs.
It wasn't my childhood dream to become a Forest Therapy Guide for I had no idea such a thing even existed, but intuitively and magically, I was called to take this bold step into the unknown, to work in partnership with nature.