The Tree Teaching of Thriving Not Dying.
In my last couple of articles, we have looked at stepping into a New Year leaving the old stories behind and putting down roots using forest bathing meditations. Now we turn our attention to the coldest season and the lessons we can learn. We have looked at losing our leaves, the old stories. We have looked at rooting ourselves with new awareness. Now we look at what to do in the cold and dark when things are tough.
In cold limbs I find
A beating heart pumping blood
My life continues
Out in the woods all is still. Are the trees dead? What happens to them in winter? What happens to us in Winter?
The Tree Teaching – Forest Bathing Exercise
The tree teaching comes at the end of the audio blog.
Winter - Cold, dark, sleep, withdraw, grey, deep, cloud, hibernate, dream
Before you start.
Be aware that your sessions starts the moment you make that intention to “do it now”…
If you are housebound, make the commitment to allow no disturbance for half an hour.
Office bound, Switch off that phone, put up the do not disturb sign
When you have finished your meditation, you may like to sit again and allow more words to spill out on paper. It might just be a list, it might be more poetic. Don’t judge, let it happen. You could do this every time you connect with trees and nature, and this too will become treasure and an act of remembering and honouring the world, this ecosystem you inhabit and are a part of.
It may surprise some but Winter is a time of growth and expansion, of stretching and flexing. Winter is a time of secrets speaking sky scribed. When trees lose their leaves they stand branches bare and we gain more insight into their characters.
Howling winds, lashing rains, snows and frost rimmed days and thick ice nights come and go. Winter teaches trees to live.
While seemingly dormant they are learning to thrive. While seeming to be fast asleep they are stretching out imperceptibly branch and root.
We humans retreat inside. We close the doors of our homes against the bone chill. Light spills out of windows onto the ground outside yet when we look out it seems pitch black.
We don’t see star clad owl hoots.
The seasons teach us to appreciate warmth and light. After the cold breath of winter upon our faces a warm hand resting against a cold rosy cheek is a blessing.
Summer is work. Winter is rest.
In Summer we work longer hours, we mow lawns, we wash cars, we go out with friends, we find endless jobs to do, filling our times with busyness. In Winter we go indoors and take on small, long put off but long awaiting simple tasks such as finding lost buttons, mending shelves and that book we have been meaning to read. We are meant to slow down just as the trees do.
" As darkness falls, I found myself in the old wood - alone. Walking in woodland, all stress and anger leaves me." AST member Stuart Robins
Winter is not a slow death, it is rest and recuperation. We don’t rescind responsibilities but we can take a rest. We can take respite from all those ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’, from all those obligations. Let them lie under the ice for a while. Maybe you see nothing but endless mud … well, even mud can carry footprints. Even when seeming to be asleep we are still growing.
The Cinderella story is very old and is a weaving of the ancient idea of ‘Cinder Biters’. A cinder biter is an old Norse tradition. In the times of great longhouses when everyone lived under one roof there were those who lay in the space between the fire and the scooped out ashes. They were known as the ‘cinder biters’. They wouldn’t do much, not wash, not join in with day to day tasks. They were left alone and it was understood by all that they would each come out in their own time.
Did you know that in the ancient Cinderella story she makes a dress made out of Birch Bark? She is mocked, she lives in the dirt and the dark, but it is she who meets the great hunter the maidens all dream of. And how? She begins by making her birch bark dress. It is an ancient tale of connecting with the land and an interior wild wisdom. A native rooted soul.
"Trees are such beautiful souls and we can learn so much from them" AST member Sarah Chivers
We have all seen teenagers who seem to sleep all day and not do much. It is an essential part of their growth. I like teenagers and as a teacher I have spent a lot of time in their company. It is easy to think of them not contributing to society as we would wish. But this tiredness, this daydreaming, this not doing much and withdrawing is all part of the need to go within.
Trees sink into the warm earth though their branches remain in the cold. Like the Cinder Biters and bear they too are in a place between times. Like them we too go within, to somewhere warm against the cold. In the ancient stories there is a withdrawing to do, a leaving home, a stepping outside the normal bonds of life. The trees withdraw in to themselves and this is the time they sleep, heal and grow more roots.
In tough times we can withdraw and it might feel like we will never come out, as though Winter will last forever but, like trees, we are taught by Winters' coming not to die a slow death, but how to thrive.
from Amanda Claire
Each week I am including an archetype in the newsletter to accompany the blog and this audio forest bathing 'mediTreetion'. There is other news, views, pics and more included. AST is Free to join and always will be.
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