Council of Waters and Trees

August 20 - 24, 2018

Enter the liminal space of renewed possibility for deepening our connection with the more-than-human world through Forest Therapy and the Way of Council.

Forest Therapy, also known as Shinrin-Yoku, refers to the practice of spending time in forested areas for the purpose of enhancing health, wellness and happiness. It is a practice of connection with the natural world, and with each other. A series of guided invitations bring us into the present moment, opening the doors of communication with the forest, waters and landscapes we explore. We encounter not just the forest, but through the many ways nature mirrors us, we also encounter ourselves.

The Way of Council is a process of communication with ourselves and each other that supports deepening into our experience. Through council we can discover the meaning of our emerging stories through sharing and being witnessed in circle. Council invites us to become more intimate with our own lives, and support each other as we move through our processes of learning, growing, grieving and healing. Because it invites authentic expression, Council can be quite intimate. Discover how the form of Council can create space that is both vulnerable and safe.

Restorative Practices build on the Way of Council to create opportunities for exploring and healing harms in relationships. In the Council of Waters and Trees we introduce “Aloha Ropes,” a restorative practice developed by M. Amos Clifford. Inspired by the Hawaiian tradition of Ho’oponopono and other sources, we use the practice to deepen our relationship with the more-than-human world of nature. Through Aloha Ropes we discover how the land can listen and speak to us, and through us, give voice to its longings, wisdom, and needs.  Like Council, Aloha Ropes is a method that can be readily transferred into other settings such as schools and communities.

This four-day journey allows us to sink deeply into the medicine of the forest. Mornings are spent immersing in the experiential practices of Forest Therapy.  Afternoon Council meetings support the deep rooting of the medicine the forest has offered. We experience the brief “light touch” council as it is used in Forest Therapy as well as diving into the deeper practice, and learning-by-doing the core skills of council leadership.

Amos Clifford is the founder of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. A serial social entrepreneur, Amos is a leading voice for Shinrin-Yoku inspired Forest Therapy in the United States. The Association’s work has been featured in Oprah Magazine, NPR Morning Edition, USA Today, the Washington Post, Yahoo Health, Yoga Journal, and many other publications. He was featured on the January 2016 episode of National Geographic Explorer, “Call of the Wild.”

Amos holds a BS in Organization Development and an MA in Counseling from the University of San Francisco. He has authored many publications including “A Little Handbook of Shinrin-Yoku”, available through nftg.org, and “Teaching Restorative Practices with Classroom Circles,” available from centerforrestorativeprocess.org.