Creative and Sensory Approaches to Forest Therapy

Embodying the Senses: Playing with Proprioception, Kinesthesia, and Imagination

Clare Kelley, MA/MPHc
Certified Forest Therapy Guide

How do we move beyond the classical five senses described by Aristotle? Travel through the worlds of more esoteric senses to find a deeper relationship to your body and environment. How can we use our partnership with the more-than-human world to explore these senses? Proprioception calls us to our felt sense of our body in space and our surroundings. It guides us to kinesthesia, the sense of how we move and how much effort we need to move. Imagination draws us beyond the senses to map our stories and new ideas; it is the foundation of hope. Each of these senses is critical to new learning, body autonomy, healing from trauma, and connecting to our human and non-human family. In this experiential workshop, we'll connect to nature and ourselves by playing with these senses and telling stories. You'll discover techniques to experience these senses in a tangible way. Play with your own experience and partner with both humans and more-than-humans. You'll leave feeling grounded and connected. Participants are encouraged to go barefoot if they feel comfortable doing so.

Clare Kelley is a certified forest therapy guide (cohort 10), movement educator, and advocate for public health. She has devoted countless hours of training and exploring health, nature connection, movement and yoga, kinesiology, anatomy, and neurology. The earth is her ally, nature is her playground, and her body a compass. Carrying an extraordinary breadth and depth of knowledge, she studied health sciences (MA/MPH) at the George Washington University with a concentration in study design, monitoring, and evaluation. She has almost 15 years of experience working with health research, programming, and application, including working with the American Society of Hematology, National Cancer Institutes in the US, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, and Peru, Mulago Hospital in Uganda, and Health Volunteers Overseas. Clare was awarded the Louis N. Cotlow award for her ethnographic field work in Tacna, Peru. Her undergraduate work concentrated on US history of race relations, anthropological linguistics, and piano performance.Following an environmental poisoning that changed her brain, Clare shifted her work to connecting people to their health and nature. In recent years she has favored curiosity over authoritative knowledge, student-led learning, hands-on sensory experiencing, and guiding her students and clients to discover what they need to know to feel whole and connected.Clare currently runs DC Forest Bathing, applying her public health background and movement expertise to bringing the healing benefits of nature to stressed out people in her peculiar, biophilic city. She regularly guides, including full moon walks at the National Arboretum, walks for families, children, and teens, burnt-out doctors and health students, nonverbal and neuroatypical people, people working with PTSD, and those who just need a break from the hectic pace of DC. Clare serves as an advisory board member on public health to ANFT. A master of embodied movement, Clare teaches Pilates, yoga, and functional movement in Washington, DC. She holds a special certificate in working with neurological conditions. Emphasizing inclusivity, her work interweaves science, wisdom traditions, love of play and nature, and the metaphysical. She lives six blocks from the White House with her two house panthers, Francie and Neely, and 90 plants.