BE LIKE A TREE
I love trees – for their beautiful and so very varied shapes, sizes, colours. I love trees as providers of homes for so very many mini-beasts - those that have residences in the branches and amongst the roots of the living trees and those in the wood piles left to rot in order to provide homes for more small beings. I always resist the urge to cut up such stumps in my garden for use on my wood burner on the grounds that their need is greater than mine. I love to see fallen trees left for habitats, head rubbing posts for sheep, antler scrapes for deer when I visit Tatton Park. My trees provide shelter in my garden for a bug hotel as well as a couple of hedgehog/mouse hotels, with annexes provided by broken pots all filled with a supply of dry leaves and straw.
In a previous post, I described being asked to abandon all inhibitions and ‘be like a tree’ when I was doing my teacher training. OK, I did this, but am happier with admiring and communing with my arboreal neighbours. I guess Prince Charles would be proud of me! I would love to have a tree house, and especially to spend a night up among the branches. I would love to have a bough that was sufficiently sturdy to allow a swing to be hung from it. Afraid it would have to be a pretty sturdy one for me to be able to actually swing to and fro on it without having a nasty accident!
I used to love to take my own children, and those that I taught out amongst the trees – touching the bark, the twigs, the leaves; drawing, investigating; using trees (literally and diagrammatically) in maths and science; art and crafts including trees and using trees as sources of materials. So much to learn from them. Now, I have the added interest of drawing up my family tree, finding out as much as I can about the roots that have led to the ‘me’ that I am. Wondering about the many branched root system members and their lives, and what they would think of me and mine.
WAYS IN WHICH PEOPLE CAN BE LIKE TREES
So many different trees, so many different people. On reflection, I am drawn to what I would consider to be similar in both of these categories. I will illustrate using the trees -
I love the trees that struggle against the prevailing winds to maintain a grip on the poor, shallow soil in the rocky groove it calls home. Maybe they lose twigs and branches in the gales, but battle on without complaint. I love the trees that give us fruits and nuts, unquestioningly year after year. I love the trees that offer us shade from the sun, holding their branches up and out against the heat, protecting us. I love the trees which offer shelter to the sheep and cattle out in the fields, either on the grand estates where the oak and chestnut trees stand proudly; or on the fells where they are very much shaped by the elements, leaning, squat and gnarled with the years of wind and snow.
I love the willowy and graceful ones as well as the short, chunky ones. The ones which can simply get on with the job of being, without making a big fuss or putting demands on their neighbours, be they arboreal or human.
I love the conifers, the evergreens which can hurt with their prickly needles, unless handled with sensitivity and care. Above all, I love our deciduous trees which mirror the seasons with their buds bursting forth into a wonderfully fresh green display in Spring through to their autumnal show of yellows, reds and browns before losing their leaves to provide succour to the earth below, shelter for animals in the cold winter months as they (both trees and animals) rest and renew throughout the winter.
For me to appreciate a tree, it really does not have to be a prize, or prized specimen. One gorgeous tree in my garden was in the reject bin of a garden centre and cost me fifty pence.
I make use of this shedding of leaves in hypnotherapy, as a means of using the imagination, the mind, our most powerful tool, to imagine releasing fears, negativity, worries, concerns in the form of leaves falling. With each leaf that the client lets fall, so negativity is released, allowing the client to move forwards much more positively.
So many people seemingly hang on to their ‘leaves’ when letting them fall away would be so much healthier. They re-hash grudges bourn, comments made, looks given, going over them time and time again, in their own minds and shared with others. They do this to such an extent that these leaves seemingly become super glued in place. Who does this benefit? Nobody. The hearers get fed up of the repeated moans and negativity. The moaner, well, their ruminating leads to the original happening growing and growing, no doubt being added to by other words or happenings over time.
Two ways forward – you either let those leaves drop, allow yourself to put the memories on the back burner, eventually to fall away; or you prune them by actively doing something about what was said or done. You have that conversation with the offending person. If not, you are accepting what they have said or done – thereby giving them permission for a repeat performance. OK, probably not the easiest conversation, but a necessary one to give you peace of mind, to get rid of those unwanted leaves, making space for new, fresh growth.
Maybe for you, the offending person isn’t a tree that you appreciate – for me, I am not so taken with the trees that do not bend and go with the flow; the ones that break and seemingly offer up the scars of their broken boughs with a ‘poor me’ attitude. I am not so taken with those who invade and take over, pushing with their branches and roots to gain what they need – a ‘sod you’ attitude where only their wants and needs take precedence. Wherever possible, I have cut out such trees, or at the very least, I endeavour not to focus on them.
Over the years, the tree that is me has had to be transplanted several times. New soil, completely new habitats, many times over, new climate for a time, but I have attempted to weather the many transplantations with fortitude. On reflection, I probably did a good job of digging up my roots well on each move, grafting on new knowledge of new surroundings, jobs, people as I went. Those roots served me well – the roots nurtured by my parents enabling me to have the self-resilience, self-reliance to make each move, each change.
Oh how I thank them for this as it would have been so much easier to have encouraged a dependence on their nurturing which would not have served me so well. That letting go of your sapling to find their way in the world, make their own mistakes, grow up and flourish independently isn’t easy but so very essential for a healthy development as well as a healthy, balanced future relationship.
WHEN TREES STRUGGLE
Sadly, my prized lemon tree which lives in my conservatory has gone into shock. It has shed most of its leaves, quite dramatically so, though it has surprisingly retained several fruits. The shock – probably two-fold was that I knocked it over – big time, smashing its pot and no doubt affecting its branches in the fall from its stand. When I cleared the debris and re-potted, I thought I would re-locate it by the window. Sadly, I feel that this was a poor decision and meant that my already sad tree struggled with the winter cold. Thanks to Google, I know that it should recover with correct nourishment and TLC. No point in feeling guilty as I didn’t choose to know the tree over – it was a complete accident. I hope that my adopted tree does recover, as it has often been a source for my reflections, as well as a lead in to singing (which I will not inflict on you – rather give you a link to a recording by others!!)
How can a tree produce on the one hand beautifully scented flowers, filling my conservatory with its wonderful aroma, but, and this has happened simultaneously, bear fruit that is very bitter. OK, goes down well in a G&T, or makes a wonderful lemon curd when heaped with sugar, but alone, so tart, so difficult to swallow.
My reflections – again, this tree is so like some people. Those who are lemon trees can be blossom - sweetness and light, happy and pleasant to most people, whilst to the ‘chosen’ few, they present as the bitter lemons. No pun intended there! I know such people, though those who experience only the blossom would and do find the lemon fruit side of the person difficult to imagine. What makes it necessary for them to be like this? What is going on for them to make this happen? Questions for another time, another place methinks.
PEOPLE IN OUR LIVES
When working with clients, I sometimes make use of my collection of crystals as an aid for them in understanding where they consider people in their lives to be – both physically and emotionally. I could equally use a tree for this, maybe an idea for future sessions – by moving out into nature! That would be much better than simply using a picture, and I like the idea of walking therapy.
We have some people who come and go – like leaves – they do not form a permanent part of our life. They probably did, however, support us through that period of time – their friendship giving emotional nourishment and succour. These leaves equate with the many acquaintances we have and the friends who drop by the wayside through changes of location, interests, circumstances.
Others, well they contribute more (as you in all likelihood contribute to their life) and are a more permanent part of our life – maybe family, or close friends who are ‘there’ for us, no matter where we are geographically.They form our twigs and branches, swaying along with us if it gets stormy. Dancing along in the breeze, having fun times.
Then there are our roots – nurturing, anchoring us when things become difficult, allowing us to move through our lives as independent individuals.So vital to our well-being, and one of the reasons why those who have a poor root system due to childhood abuse can continue to struggle later in life unless they have taken steps to healing. Such steps may include reaching the point of letting those leaves fall as I said before. The leaves which act as a reminder of what happened, and are now preventing the new growth of a happy, healthy future.
In order to maintain a healthy whole, it may be necessary to get out the secateurs to remove those leaves that we do not seem to be allowing to drop of their own accord. Actively taking steps to work through the reasons why it is so much healthier to stop the remembering that serves only a negative purpose – maybe with the support of some counselling. If I can help with this, please get in touch. I promise that the secateurs will only be metaphorical ones!
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