Mindful Outdoor Guide Certification Level 1: Forest Community

A Doorway to Presence

In Level 1, you will gain foundational skills to lead people through transformative outdoor experiences. While outdoor leadership already exists as a field, mindfulness transforms outdoor leadership into a portal of connection.  As a Kripalu Mindful Outdoor Guide, you will invite people into reciprocity with the Earth through a connection to place. Our approach braids together ideas from across cultures to create a modern understanding of mindfulness in the outdoors. This training is perfect for anyone passionate about sharing the benefits of being in nature with others.

What You Will Learn


This practice, a unique method that provides a complete experience of connection with self, place, and community that is accessible, potent, and intuitive, is a signature of Kripalu programming and philosophy.


Forest bathing, or shinrin yoku, is the practice of taking in the forest’s atmosphere through all the senses. This practice is a potent, proven method for relieving stress, boosting mood and immunity, and fostering deeper bonds with nature.


Sitting quietly and mindfully in nature is a powerful way to become a part of the forest community. Practice the art of sitting in nature to expand awareness and become one with your surroundings.


For most of human history, people have gathered in a circle to share their stories. This practice, called Council, is an invaluable tool for building community, as well as developing communication and facilitation skills as a Mindful Outdoor Guide.


Discover the latest scientific research on the health benefits of spending time in nature and learn to share these benefits with others.


Animals and plants have so much to teach us about living and being on the land. Join our expert naturalists from Mass Audubon and explore some of the common flora and fauna on the Kripalu grounds, including trees, basic animal tracks, scat, and signs. You also get to share your insights about the meaningful connections you have made with the forest community.

Micah Mortali holding a tinder flame


Learning how to safely and responsibly birth and tend a fire is an instrumental skill for Mindful Outdoor Guides. Here you experience the fundamentals of fire-making and explore fire as a potent tool for practicing meditation.


Investigate opportunities to help connect people with nature in your community. During the break between Level 1 and Level 2, you will work on a personal project to present to your class. This project focuses on the research you will conduct on some aspect of your home environment and how you plan to incorporate those elements into your work as a Mindful Outdoor Guide.

Upcoming Trainings
Level 1: Forest Community   ON CAMPUS  
September 20–29, 2024 


Level 1: Forest Community |   ONLINE   
November 1–December 15, 2024 



Information Sessions

Register for one of our free, online information sessions to learn more.



Level 1 certification is comprised of approximately 75 hours of instruction and practice in the following categories:

  • Nature Meditation/Observation
  • Council Practice/Group Facilitation
  • Forest Bathing/Mindfulness
  • Naturalist Instruction
  • Science/Evidence
  • Outdoor Skills

Reading List

Required Reading

  • Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv
  • Your Brain on Nature, Eva M. Selhub and Alan C. Logan
  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, Robin Wall Kimmerer
    Please read Learning the Grammar of Animacy, Allegiance to Gratitude, In the Footsteps of Nanabozho: Becoming Indigenous to Place.
  • The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature, M. Amos Clifford
  • Rewilding: Meditations, Practices, and Skills for Awakening in Nature, Micah Mortali
  • What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World, Jon Young

Suggested Reading

  • The Way of Council, Jack Zimmerman PhD and Virginia Coyle
  • The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age, Richard Louv
  • The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, Florence Williams
  • Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America, Roger Tory Peterson
  • National Audubon Society Field Guide to Trees: Eastern Region, National Audubon Society
  • Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Signs, Paul Rezendes


What Students Say
Frequently Asked Questions


Is the curriculum different for the online versus the campus training?
There is no difference in the curriculum. However, there is additional one-on-one mentoring with Kripalu Faculty made available to our students taking the training online.

How will the trainings be shared?
All sessions of the training will be held by Zoom video call. Links, passwords, and more information will be shared once you are registered in the training.


Is the whole training outdoors?
Yes, barring extreme or unsafe weather conditions the entirety of this training is held outside on the land surrounding Kripalu Center. As a Kripalu Mindful Outdoor Guide in training, it is important that you prepare for the training by spending regular time outdoors in a variety of weather conditions before arriving.  Proper clothing and gear is also essential.  You will receive a complete gear list when you are accepted into the training.




Do I need to be an experienced outdoor leader to take this training?
No.  You do not need to be a seasoned outdoor guide to take this training.  The Kripalu Mindful Outdoor Guide certification teaches you how to lead others in connecting mindfully with nature.  You do, however, need to be able to be outdoors for up to 12 hours each day for seven full days in a variety of weather conditions.

What is Mindful Outdoor Leadership?
Mindful outdoor leaders use mindfulness, which is the practice of cultivating non-judgmental awareness in the present moment, to help those they are guiding get out of their heads and into their bodies in order to connect more deeply with nature and the outdoors.  In our modern society, people are spending less and less time outdoors and more and more time on their devices.  Mindful outdoor guides help people to open their senses in nature for greater health and quality of life.

What is Nature Deficit Disorder?
In 2005, author and journalist Richard Louv added a new word to the English lexicon, Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD).  Louv defines NDD as, “The human costs of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses.”  Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, framed the loss of connection with nature as a public health issue and challenged the trajectory of our current course of unbridled and unquestioning integration of tech into all aspects of our lives to the exclusion of time spent in nature.

Do I need to be a yoga or meditation teacher?
No.  In this training you will learn to lead short centerings, simple breathing and mindful movements within the context of nature immersion.   You do need at least two years of experience with a mindfulness based practice, such as yoga, meditation, mindful walking, Qi Gong etc.