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Communing with Women, in Nature

Updated: Jul 5, 2022

One of the best parts of our work is that in supporting women in their leadership development, we have the privilege of becoming part of an incredible learning community too.

The other weekend I (Kellie) facilitated a women’s retreat in Utah and had the opportunity to join the retreat participants for a group forest bathing activity. Forest bathing, for those of you who are not familiar with the term, originated in Japan where the word shinrin-yoku means taking in the forest atmosphere. It is not hiking; it is simply being in nature, connecting with it through your senses.

So, on a glorious Fall afternoon, a group of active and driven women were invited to meander slowly and silently along a nature trail, before spreading out along the river bank to sit in silent contemplation. I could see my curiosity and skepticism reflected in the faces of the other women. Could we slow our busy minds and bodies enough to even do this? How long would we be sitting here? What would emerge for each of us in this silence?

At the end of our meditation period, we were called back together to sit in a circle in the dirt. Reluctantly breaking the silence that we had finally embraced as sacred, we were each invited to share … what we saw, how we felt, what we thought that meant and the lessons it might have for our current life circumstances.

While it was incredibly vulnerable to share the intimacy of our personal experience in a group setting, it was also empowering and deeply moving.

  • Speaking aloud about the thoughts that I’d had as I watched the water cascading over the river rocks made it more real than if I’d kept those inner reflections to myself, or even captured them in a journal.

  • Hearing from others who had watched that same water flow over those same rocks enhanced my ability to make meaning from the experience – as it both validated my thoughts and awakened me to a different way of thinking about things.

  • Above all else, it was powerful to share a sense of belonging with this group of brilliant women who embraced the invitation to bathe in nature. It was inspiring to bear witness to their innermost thoughts, which were boldly shared to enrich the experience of the collective. I felt connected to something bigger than myself and felt far less alone on this journey of reflection and growth.

It is because of this power in community that group coaching is the cornerstone of our philosophy and approach to women’s leadership development at Her Brilliance. Through this process we can amplify the individual learnings of brilliant women to create a greater collective impact. Each time we bring a group of women together we hear that they feel validated, connected, supported and inspired.

And that’s exactly how I felt after the weekend retreat. The lessons from nature will stay with me, reminding me of my place in this world. But the connection to these women and our shared experience will be the inspiration that I’ll draw on as I lean into my awakenings to bring those lessons into my work and my daily life.

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