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Who We Are

Emma & Carlos met online, not on a dating App, as neither was looking for a partner at the time. Carlos in Canada, and Emma in Germany were practicing meditation at the very same time, his evening, her morning. This app, Insight Timer ™, let them know of this fact, but most importantly, it allowed them to send a message… “Thank you for meditating with me” at the end of the session. This is how it all started…

UsOPTEmma began her meditation practice over 30 years ago, she is a certified MBSR trainer (mindfulness based stress reduction) and a trained teacher for Mindful Self compassion (MSC).

For the past 15 years she has taught mindfulness and self-compassion courses, coached individuals and run workshops in her own practice in Munich/ Germany (Practice for Mindful Living) and at various public Organizations and private Corporations.

In 2018, she became, along with Carlos, a certified Shinrin Yoku practitioner in England. She is a co-designer and guide of our Forest Therapy program in Europe.

Carlos comes from many places. Italian genes, born in Argentina, Canadian by choice and now living in Bavaria. No matter where he has lived, nature has always been a pivotal part of his life. Growing up in a vineyard, part of his family farming business in Argentina, he always spent most of his free time outdoors, among, and often on, trees.

Forests have always been his passion and fortunately he’s had the chance to “mingle” with a very diverse range of trees, like ancient eucalyptus specimens in his childhood in Argentina; maple, birch, oak and a extensive selection of conifers during his life in Canada and now, the European families of beech, chestnut, linden together with spruce and fir in his new life in Bavaria. His instinctive attraction to trees was then strengthened by learning about the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku or Forest Bathing.

He studied Shinrin-Yoku techniques in England, Germany and Japan. He developed a Forest Therapy program influenced by his mentor Dr. Yoshifumi Miyazaki and his 30 plus years of research showing the overwhelming evidence on body and mental health benefits of “Forest Therapy” (Dr. Miyazaki coined this term himself back in 2003).

Carlos co-founded Universe Mindfulness with his wife Emma, with the idea of offering wellness escapes throughout Europe with the main theme of Mindfulness in Nature, guiding participants to become reacquainted with nature and to reconnect with it in a deeper and more healing manner than ever before.

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What We Offer

We offer European mindfulness holidays in nature.

Our 3, 7 or 10 day retreat packages are made of two main components…

♦ Mindfulness Techniques

As part of the mindful escape we propose to you, which is the type of holiday that you won’t need another holiday to recover from, we will provide you with long-lasting tools to manage stress caused by daily life. Nature and Forests are our best allies, our Forest Bathing or Shinrin Yoku retreats will reconnect you with the roots of our evolution.

Mindfulness practice will eventually become second nature and will help you maximize your everyday life, even when facing major stressful situations, including illness and pain.

♦ Vacation component

Fun in nature among kindred spirits

Our venues are selected specifically by their nature as vacation spots, without the crowds and the aspects that make holidays more stressful than staying home.

Exotic and intriguing places where our participants can explore nature, culture and history, enjoy the scenery through Europe (and also soon Japan). We offer a family style, small group retreat experience, half day and whole day trips to nearby places of great significance, either by their stunning natural beauty or by their history and culture. 

 

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Our Unique Approach

Our Vacation Retreats are full of activities for the mind, the body and the spirit.

Mindfulness training and meditation practice could become overwhelming on large doses in a short period of time, especially for beginners. We mix in some fun vacation time, with outings surrounded by natural beauty to provide a balanced experience.

The environment we select for each retreat will induce sharing and mingling, during the tours, during the meals, almost like a family enjoying the food and drinks in one large table. There will be ample opportunities and the space for solitude and contemplation as well.

Upon filling the Pre-Registration form, we would encourage a live interview via Skype with our lead instructor to ensure all questions are answered and to walk you through the entire program and daily activities. Give us a chance to help you change your life.

 

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Nature Meditation Sessions – New Series

We continue offering Free Nature Meditation Sessions online, and we’re very happy to see and hear great feedback from our community of friends and clients around the world.

We are half-way through with our first weekly series based on the 4 elements: Earth, Water, Air and Fire, and an extra one, “Space” as it is considered a 5th element in Tibetan Buddhist traditions.

Following the completion of this series, we are preparing a second set based on our senses, as they are the foundation of Forest Therapy and Shinrin-yoku, which rely on the deep connection to nature through them.

Come join us for Free, Tuesdays or Sundays.

For more information and to pick a date/time: Register Here

Shinrin-yoku Series – Video #2

Second video of the Shinrin-yoku series. “Focused Meditation – Water Element”

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Save a spot in our free online sessions

Nature Themed Guided Meditations.

The link below will take you to our very simple “Free Online Session Registration” form.
We want to make sure that our online meetings are secure, so we will invite participants who register first, also you get to pick from the most current available dates and times there.

We are offering two weekly, 1.5 hr sessions in English (Read closely to calculate your local time):

ALL TIMES ARE IN UTC (GMT) London, England time zone.

  • North America & Europe: Tuesdays & Sundays, starting at 6:00 pm UTC (GMT) which corresponds to 10:00 am Pacific – 1:00 pm Eastern, and 7:00 pm in Germany.

After you’ve picked a date and time when you sign up, we will send you a link and password to join us online the day prior to the session you selected.

The form has a “Comments” section, we would love to hear about what you’ve been up to in regards to Forest and Nature Therapy since we met, or if you haven’t participated in one of our retreats, let us know how you heard about us and a little bit about yourself. If you don’t see any dates that work for you, please mention your preferred dates and times in the “Comments” as well.

Hope to see you all soon!       Register here

Shinrin-yoku Series – Video #1

First video of the Shinrin-yoku series. “What’s in Motion”

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Our “Studio” is now on the air!

First session in our new “studio”

This is normally our seminar room in the attic of our Country Home for Mindful Living in Bavaria, Germany. We adapted it as our online content little studio.

We are using the backdrop that we had printed in London for our stand at the Mindful Living Show in early March. It works great to bring the forest into our guided meditation sessions.

What do we do exactly?

Our Forest Therapy retreats are on hold at the moment, except for the one in Japan, in October, which we are really hoping we will be able to do, so, we thought of increasing our online presence to continue offering our Mindfulness in Nature message to you all.

This is a free to enjoy service that we are offering to stay connected with our dear Mindfulness and Forest Therapy friends around the world. We also thought of using this tool to share our passion for nature and meditation as a way of helping you all, existing and new friends, in the process of managing stress that may be caused by the current global situation.

These are live, interactive, online sessions. The main component includes, short guided meditations, with breaks in between. We also include time for you all to share your thoughts and to welcome the spoken and silent support from our global community. Meditation, as well as prayer work, and so are good intentions offered by friends, family and strangers alike, where distance does not matter.

When and Where?

We started last week by offering a session every Thursday evening for our German friends. Now we are working on a schedule for our International followers. We are looking to find suitable times for the Canadian and US time zones, and then we’ll do other sessions for the English-speaking Europeans, Great Britain, and the Asian time zones. We would love to do some in Spanish as well, for the Latin Americans and Spaniards that have come to our Shinrin-yoku sessions here in Bavaria.

Look for our upcoming schedule, we hope you can join us in our live, Nature Focused Guided Meditations and enjoy our Mindfulness in Nature message.

Stay tuned for more info and dates…

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Videos and Live Presentations are here

Hi everyone, we are finally getting very close to the beginning of a new era on how to reach out to you all. These unprecedented circumstances have led us to turn up our creativity to find new ways of sharing what we have in us for you all.

Our Shinrin-yoku and Forest Therapy programs need, of course, one main ingredient, which is, being there within nature. During these times of social distancing we can’t host groups in person, so the next best thing is using our imagination and promote “being there” in mind. The brain, at times, does not differentiate between reality and imagination, if you truly feel being in a certain place. All of us, that at some point have been immersed in nature, may have a large “library” of memories that we can recall and play in our heads. If we do this in a meditative state, the imagined becomes reality to our body. Of course, no Phytoncides or any of the other wonderful natural substances found in the forest will be present, but as we said, this, we hope, is the next best thing.

We have done some trials on live, interactive, on-line presentations with our German followers and have fortunately received great feedback. Emma has put together a set of “Nature Focused Guided Meditations” with natural visual input. Next is to start scheduling some sessions in English for our international crowd, where both of us will host.

We are also making videos by our own production in our nearby forest to share with you all. These videos will have exercises which are normally part of our Shinrin-yoku program, and many of you who have already participated in our retreats will recognize and re-live.

This is our first video, “What’s in Motion”, of the Shinrin-yoku series.

Play in HD full screen when possible…. enjoy!

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Problem solving in a forest

The famous quote by Dr. Thomas Hora, “All problems are psychological, but all solutions are spiritual”, stirred up my curiosity. Considering that the “spiritual” he meant had nothing to do with established religions, it led me to believe more strongly that, a forest is the best spiritual theatre for problem solving practices.

More often than not, by spending time, mindfully, in a forest, we end up realizing there wasn’t a problem at all. Forests, as well as most natural environments, offer us a profound and most importantly secular spiritual experience. Practices like Shinrin-yoku and forest therapy, open up a portal, allowing us to cross over from a mostly “psychological”, reactive, fight of flight state to a more “spiritual”, open minded, relaxed but yet clear state. The most fecund state of mind for solutions to spontaneously present themselves.

The main factor that makes this practice so effective is that problems themselves shed their fear generating powers, the panic inducing cloak drops off, you can then see the problem for what it really is, naked and vulnerable. Therefore, often, you realize that nothing is left, so there was no real problem to begin with. In the remainder of the times, solutions just appear in front of you, and one of the recurring solutions is to, actually, continue coming back to the forest.

Like John Muir says… “And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul.”

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Nature brings a sense of normalcy

Spring is still springing, birds are still building nests, new growth is showing everywhere, in peace and calmness.

In moments like right now, we need nature even more. It helps us get through crises like the one happening to most humans on earth right now, not by ignoring, looking the other way and pretending it isn’t happening, but by feeling the support of nature, that we belong to it, that we are not alone.

We have plenty of science proving why nature and forests especially are good for us, but not as an external resource which we should use as a remedy, but more like what we feel in our homes, in our mother’s arms. It is our support system because we are part of it, we belong together.
When there is a threat in a forest, trees quietly and inconspicuously react and help each member no matter the species. Natural mechanisms kick in to protect the whole. Trees don’t turn against each other, they do not compete, they collaborate. There is so much for us humans to learn from forests and nature in general. Trees practice “social distancing” as part of their nature, yet they are connected underground by roots and a vast network of, in common terms, mushroom mycelium, using it to send to other members of the forest, elements like carbon or nitrogen that are needed for their immediate survival and other natural elements for their long-term wellbeing.

No show of force necessary for this to occur. It’s just the nature of nature. We humans should remember where we come from, that we are part of that nature.

NewBloom

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Burnout…

We see this self-imposed affliction in our participants more and more often. It seems to be happening much earlier in life, even in their 20’s. Most people that come to us are in search of a dramatic change in their lives because of the symptoms are becoming almost unbearable. They see no lasting satisfaction in anything they do “for fun” anymore. The common escape from working more than 50% of the 168 hours available in a week normally include…

  • buying expensive stuff (Substantiating their financial success)
  • partying hard (“We work hard, and we party hard”… sound familiar?)
  • seeking adrenaline inducing activities
  • and the list goes on…

Yet, the satisfaction rendered is as short-lived as the activity itself, and many times with undesirable consequences. The mildest being a killer hangover and not even remembering how much “fun” was had. Looking for answers in all the wrong places seems to be an all too common vicious circle.

“Going back to basics” sounds like an overused phrase, yet it has an important clue hidden in plain sight. If by “basics” we mean spending time in nature, in the forest, in the mountains, by the ocean on a deserted beach, then we’re really onto something.

It sounds so simplistic an answer, unsophisticated and cheap, that most people pass it by. They rather keep searching for what the competing, energy drinker, crowd says it’s worth doing.

Spending mindful time in nature is in fact in our DNA, it is the natural way our predecessors, not only rested, but also restored the balance in their bodies and minds.

It is THAT simple!

The main problem is that most people have forgotten how to do this. How to be in nature as the part of it that we are(were). Jogging through a park, with your earbuds on doesn’t quite cut it. The true connection with nature, requires all your senses focused on it, mindfully engaged with it, fully receiving all it has to give.

The proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” is that many of those borderline burnout victims are starting to see the path back to our true selves and our true home. They again seek reconnecting with nature in a profound, mindful and healing manner. The young folks that come to us are in search of the connection they had with nature when they were kids, they remember how valuable it was to them before the definition of “valuable” was changed by the competitive, cut throat professional life the embarked on.

This movement is not a revolution, it’s just common sense. And it is backed by decades of science with measurable results as proof of the physiological benefits of mindfully immersing oneself in a forest. It’s also about time.

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Looking back at Scotland

What an amazing September!

Our Mindfulness in Nature and Forest Therapy retreat in Scotland was full of magic. Strangers who became family in just a few days. We all became so enriched by nature, mindfulness and the deep connection that we all have to this one place. A place filled with tolerance, compassion and the common ground that unites us, that makes us all one.

Our true nature is lured out of us by the invisible thread that connects us all, all we need is to jump out of the hamster wheel for a while, pause, look around with the eyes of the soul and be open to seeing past the masks and self-imposed facades. A deep re-connection with nature facilitates this change back to our true selves because it’s our home, and there is no need to pretend when we are home.

We plan our retreats with a lot of heart vision, yet we continue to be surprised by the magical connections among our participants and the instant miraculous dynamics spontaneously created within minutes. We bring people from different parts of the world together, and by the time we are done, just a few days, lifelong friendships flourish. This is our most desired wish in doing what we do. It warms my heart to see these mysterious works and makes me proud and so very grateful for being a small part in them.

Good food for the body and the soul. Lots of fun in our excursions and also moments of reflection and solitude.

Looking forward to our next one. We hope you can join us!

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What a great joy – Liguria retreat 2019

We had such an amazing time at our 7 day retreat in Italy. The venue and surrounding area were indeed spectacular, the hosting family are such heartwarming people, Italian hospitality to the core. We all felt part of a great big family.

We humbly feel that our Mindfulness in Nature program was indeed a success. We are very proud of what Emma and I have put together. Each day had a theme. We did our Shinrin-yoku sessions in different forested areas around the area. Twice right next to the farm, one in a national park a short drive away and the last one at a very special and inspiring valley just a few minutes away. Nature and Mindfulness was indeed all around us.

Some photos and feedback from this amazing week:

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Gli orti de Bertin

“A week’s retreat Forest Bathing with Carlos and Emma in Italy was a unique, enjoyable and memorable experience, one not to be missed”


“I was travelling alone, however I never felt alone as Carlos gave me step by step instructions and from the moment I enquired about the trip I felt connected, cared for and supported all the way through to arriving in the country, Carlos proved to be a very reliable and trustworthy person”


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A sundowner by the sea


“It is evident that Carlos and Emma share their passion for forest bathing and have knowledge of the benefits and research. The simple sensory practices bring new awareness and insights to an experience in the forest and can be quite profound, I look forward to repeating these when I’m back home and enjoying a more sensory and connected relationship with nature”


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The frame game

“The programme was very well thought out with a variety of forests bathing trips to different forests, visits to local places of interest and mindfulness meditation”


“I feel refreshed, renewed, relaxed and empowered to return to life after only one week away! I wish you all the best for the future and hope this one gave you a good start in many more successful retreats”


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A cloud in the forest

“Carlos shared his interest of dream yoga, which I found inspiring and couldn’t wait to go to sleep to see what happens! Emma shared her passion for creative writing which was infectious and fun, her calm and gentle presence comes across at all times, particularly through her guided meditations”

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Campo Ligure

“I found Carlos and Emma to be the warm, kind, caring and interesting to talk to. I feel forever grateful for their knowledge and well put together programme that gave me a memorable experience always to be remembered”

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Portofino

I’m interested for next year! CLICK HERE

Some more memorable times and places:

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Prep trip to Liguria, Italy

Here we are, at Gli Orti di Bertin, near Campo Ligure, Italy. This is the venue for our next Shinrin-yoku retreat the last week of May. We came to finalize the last few details and mark the trails we’ll be using during our 7 days in this beautiful land.

Today we walked along the river Gorzente which will be one of our trails in May. This conservation area is located at about 20 minutes from here, cr20190424_122130.jpgossing to the province of Alessandria in Piemonte. Everything was just bursting with that new “baby” green and multicolour flowers were making themselves shown… This park is called Parco di Capanne di Marcarolo in the extensive protected area of the Piedmont Apennines.

At this time of the year, the river swells due to melting snow and the rain that has been falling the last few days. Most of the path that we walked was in fact flooded by the small natural springs coming down with much more water than usual. It’s all part of the annual cycle, increased water supply to the increased demand as everything is blooming and bursting with life.