As April unfurls its blossoms, it marks the onset of spring and serves as a poignant reminder of Earth Month—a time to rekindle our bond with nature, to immerse ourselves in repairing lost or broken connections to the natural world around us. In this spirit, Southwest Michigan’s Chikaming Open Lands (COL) has forged a transformative partnership with Forest Bathing Michigan + Nature Therapy of Michiana, promising a series of immersive forest bathing experiences throughout 2024. Click here for dates and RSVP.

Forest bathing, known as Shinrin-yoku in Japan where the practice was established, isn’t merely a walk through the woods; it’s a profound journey into the heart of nature’s healing power. Gentle strolls, mindfulness exercises, and meditation sessions follow a strategic path amidst COL’s pristine nature preserves, offering participants a break from the clamor of modern life, a chance to reconnect with earth’s rhythms.

Forest Bathing Experiences

Led by seasoned ANFT Certified Guide, Karen Joy, each forest bathing session is meticulously crafted to awaken the senses, induce relaxation, and foster a deeper communion with the natural world. From May through December, a variety of dates and times are offered to accommodate diverse schedules and preferences.

Karen Joy, the founder of Forest Bathing Michigan & Nature Therapy of Michiana believes “Everyone belongs in nature because we are nature, we are not separate from it. Our goal is to create a safe, welcoming space where individuals of all ages and abilities can experience the healing power of the forest.”

Scientifically proven to reduce stress, enhance mood, and bolster overall well-being, forest bathing isn’t just a leisurely stroll, though for some that might be all that is needed. It can also be a profound recalibration of our relationship with the natural world.

The forest bathing sessions for 2024 commence on April 18th, with several sessions scheduled each month, extending through December. While many of these will be held within COL’s enchanting nature preserves, there are ten very special sessions, including horses, are scheduled in partnership with Forest Meadow Ranch in Berrien Springs. 

Each session promises a serene backdrop for participants to savor the benefits of this therapeutic practice. As space for each session is limited, interested individuals are urged to secure their spots early. For those eager to embark on this transformative journey, registration and further details are available at

As we celebrate Earth Month in all the different ways, let us heed the call of the wild, embrace the healing touch of nature, and embark on a journey of rejuvenation amidst the splendor of Southwest Michigan. Together, let us nurture our bond with the earth, reconnect with our own spirits and the spirits of others on this very special journey to enhance our vitality, our well-being and our true connections.

Forest Bathing Experiences

For media inquiries, please contact:

Karen Joy Bouwman, ANFT Certified Forest Therapy Guide
(269) 216-4477

About Chikaming Open Lands:
Chikaming Open Lands is the local land conservancy dedicated to preserving the open spaces and natural rural character of southern Berrien County. Since its founding in 1999, COL has played a pivotal role in protecting over 2,000 acres of open space, working tirelessly to safeguard native habitats, improve water quality, and perpetually preserve ecologically significant landscapes.

About Forest Meadow Ranch:

Forest Meadow Ranch is nestled on 17 beautiful acres in Berrien Springs, Michigan. All activities and events take place outdoors in our pasture and woods. Our private setting is surrounded by a mature forest of trees and trails that meander the property. In addition to our horses and domestic pets, the peaceful ranch is also home to countless native plants and wild animals. Spending time with horses and witnessing their intelligent and intuitive nature is inspiring. Horses are, by nature, non-judgemental and genuine in their interactions, thus making them perfect facilitators of therapy and learning. 

Forest Bathing Experiences