Nastja Ambrozic

When you open up all your senses, you connect with the forest and connect with yourself

So my message is knowledge and understanding of the natural world. The creative practice that I would like to save It’s forest arts therapy. Why? Because we humans come from the forest, right? We’re just monkeys without hair, wearing clothes and have this anthropocentric belief that we are something more than other species. But we actually lived 7 million years in the forest. So I would like to save this practice because it brings you back to the forest, brings you back to your roots, and it asks you to open up all your senses. So hearing, seeing, smell, taste and touch. And when you open up all your senses, you have this opportunity to connect with the forest and connect with yourself with mindfulness practices, with playfulness in the forest. There are a lot of exercises and methods that you can do. You can take forest materials and make a statue out of it. Maybe an artwork. But there is a practice that I love the most, it’s called «Shinrin-Yoku», in English, Forest Bathing. And it’s a Japanese practice about immersing all your senses into the forest. And it actually heals you mentally and physically. Let’s say first, physically, it lowers your blood pressure, it lowers your levels of cortisol. Scientists made saliva research and found out that just 20 minutes of forest bathing lessens the cortisol for 20%. I think a bit more. And yet, I think for us, it’s healing. Maybe I also forgot to say that I don’t know if you heard about mycorrhizal relationship that plants and fungi have, and I think that we should be more like them: networking, working together to help each other. Like kind of to save the planet. Save yourselves, ourselves and each other.

I just finished studying, actually. I am an art teacher and now I study arts therapy and I’m a nature enthusiast, so I somehow want to connect arts therapy, like sculpturing or drawing with movement therapy and put it into the forest environment. But I’m not there yet. I’m writing my master’s on forest bathing and forest arts therapy. So, yeah, thesis, I don’t know when it will be finished, but I will do some more workshops in between. And I started to work as a mentor at Kolesnikova Institute. Let’s call us mediums that translate artworks into these crazy workshops for kids, like really out of the box workshops for kids. And yeah, that’s it for now. I paint to just flush away every day stress of life and I go to forests, but I want to research more like bio art because we have so much nature in Slovenia and we all like spending time in it. So why not make it like a creative practice?

Art is healing

I started doing art by intuition. When I was a kid, I started dancing and painting. My parents divorced when I was seven years old and it was kind of a childhood trauma for me. The times after the divorce were heavy and I flushed out those feelings through art. So I believe that art is healing and I want to share this with people.

Nature is healing

We communicate with nature when we go for a walk to the forest. Just taking a walk through forests, when you stand on the ground, the trees know that you’re there because mycelium feels your walk, feels you walking through the soil and then gives out the information to the trees. Feet on sides are small molecules, water like compounds that go out of the trees and heal you. And in Japanese practices children go to some kind of doctors and therapists and they recommend going to a certain type of forest for different kinds of problems and symptoms, and they heal themselves. So yes, nature is healing.

Be confident and believe in yourself

I was different and I grew up in a really small town. So the message is just be confident and believe in yourself. Trust your own intuition because it will bring you far, far in your life. if I trusted my own intuition, it would be really easier to live for me. Yeah. Because I had some kind of emotional problems just because of the stigma outside [dictating] how I should behave, how I should think, what opinion I should have. But this is a small town problem.

About Nastja Ambrozic

Nastja Ambrozic is a mentor at Kersnikova Institute, a non-profit and non-governmental cultural organization, founded by the Student Organisation of the University of Ljubljana.

CreaTures resources

Knopp, T., Debevec, E. & Ambrožič, N. (2022) MyCoBiont [Festival Pechakucha presentation]. CreaTures Festival, Sevilla, Spain.

Kersnikova Institute (2022) MyCoBiont . Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Botero, A., Dolejšová, M., Choi, J. H-j. and Ampatzidou, C. (2022). Open Forest: Walking with Forests, Stories, Data, and Other Creatures.interactions 29 (1) 48–53.