Kate Bast is the founder and certified nature and forest therapy guide of Shinrin-Yoku Madison. “It’s all about immersing in the atmosphere and pace of nature to open and activate the senses (there are more than five!) to find stillness and yet be fully alive and awake to the moment,” says Bast, noting that there are myriad benefits to the practice of Shinrin-Yoku, ranging from immune system function to an increase in creativity. Learn about Kate Bast…
Hometown: Madison, WI
First job: Assistant editor of Milwaukee Magazine. The position also came with the responsibility of copyediting two editions of a fishing magazine and proofreading a 600-page auto parts catalog. It all seemed so terribly exciting then.
Favorite ways to spend your free time in WI: In the woods, of course! And on the water, traveling the state with my family. We are lucky to have so many gorgeous natural green spaces, places and parks to enjoy.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: Leaving my 25-plus years of magazine editorial work to start this new path. It involved redefining myself — not through my work, but through other aspects of self and intentions. It was difficult. It involved grieving the old me to make room for the new. I followed what I and my colleagues preached at BRAVA Magazine: thrive in your life. I realized I needed to step away, and the universe was making me choose, hard, to stay on old path or create a new one — instead of just allowing another option to appear. I had always wanted to be a nurse practitioner. Through my editorial self, I got to share great info with all kinds of women; becoming a certified nature and forest therapy guide now allows me to nurture the helper/healer side of myself, working directly with individuals.
The biggest obstacle you overcame: That’s a trio of obstacles for me: Fear of leaving one career to start another, and a business, from scratch; my own self-limiting beliefs; and perfectionism.
Someone who inspires you and why: Nature. She’s always showing and teaching me more than I could have imagined before starting on this guide path. When you drop into nature, you can see there is strength and resilience, that all things follow a cycle or pattern. And always, there is the element of surprise and awe in even the tiniest of things. I also try to make a personal practice of finding something inspiring in each person I meet. The possibilities are endless. I love the energy of that. It fuels me.
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: The forest has your back, it’s an ANFT guiding nugget, and proof positive, it’s the truth you just have to believe in to ease your way as a Shinrin-yoku guide. Cultivate patience, curiosity and your senses. Lean into what feels right, and create room for the new awareness about yourself and what nature offers to you that you can open others to. Truly, it takes a young sapling much time to grow into a wise old oak.
Favorite quote: As a writer and editor, it’s impossible to have just one — or even just three! This one has stuck with me always. It has hung on my parents’ wall in their home since I was a child, and I’ve deciphered it different ways, in different phases of my life. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” -Henry David Thoreau
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: People are always surprised (and sometimes baffled) when I tell them I guide “forest bathing” walks.
What makes someone fabulous: Authenticity. Living true to themselves. Being a catalyst. Compassion. Kindness. Having a deep regard for nature and the great web of the dynamics of our great web of interconnection with the world and each other is a double bonus.
Photo credit: Kaia Calhoun Photography