For the first time ever, The Town of Southern Pines Recreation and Parks Department has contracted to offer “Forest Bathing” as part of its fall programming.  Forest Bathing is a practice originating in Japan that invites participants to immerse their senses in the natural world. 

Studies have shown us that forest bathing can lead to a wide variety of improvements in participants’ health and wellness.  A few of these effects include improvements in immune system functioning, accelerated recovery from illness and surgery, improved sleep, lowered heart rate and blood pressure, improved mental health, and stress reduction.  It’s also a way to appreciate nature, enjoy beauty, and experience the wonders of the Sandhills unique ecosystem.

Sessions will take place weekly at the Whitehall Tract from October through February and are guided by Lara Beth Jones, a licensed occupational therapist and certified nature and forest therapy guide. Each session is between two and three hours in length because studies show that’s how long it takes the parasympathetic nervous system to engage for therapeutic benefit.  Participants should dress in layers for the weather and bring a blanket, mat, or chair to sit or lie down on. 

“We are all coming to our senses as we cope with these challenging times.  Think of this like a half-day wellness retreat, a way to get grounded and connected,” says a spokesperson.

Registration is online at

For more information, visit or contact Megan Threatt at [email protected] or call 910-692-2463.

File photo: The oldest known longleaf pine tree, located in Weymouth Woods in Southern Pines, turned 472 years old in 2020~Sandhills Sentinel.



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