Even though I’ve given up my office and am now practicing psychotherapy at home on zoom, I still get into Central Park just about every day. On weekends, I go to a bench that’s under a gathering of trees and read and do writing such as this. This particular morning, as I think about our troubled world, I am also aware of the steadiness, presence, and seeming serenity of the large, towering trees around me. When I’m able to clear my mind and simply be with the trees, I find that my bodymind begins to fill with their essence of steady presence. These earth-kin, because of their size and stature, convey to me—whether this is my projection or something actually coming from the trees—a deep settling.
I also notice the boulders and large rock formations that are so much part of the park and can sense into their grounded stability, as well. Somehow, these earth-kin, along with the trees, speak to me this morning about qualities of patience and presence. In addition, the vivid greens of the trees speak to me of healing, health, well-being, and I soak those qualities in, as well.
When I’m not in the park, I can have the same kind of experience with the “trees” that live in my apartment and with all the stone people who also share my home. The three felines who are my animal companions also convey a powerful ability to totally relax and then immediately be available for play or alertness, as the situation may invite or demand.
There are times I look at some of the crystals—rock people—in my home and I fill up with a sense of the wisdom these grandparents carry within them. There are times I look at one particular tree in my living room—one of four tall Ming Aralias that live with me—and fill up with a sense of delicate beauty and presence. Whether these are actual qualities expressed within these earth-kin isn’t what matters. What matters is what they convey to me and the qualities they elicit within my felt-sense, my emotional state, and the quality of my thoughts and self-talk. (I’ve mentioned many times how our self-talk is actually a form of self-hypnosis, and how much it matters what we say to I ourselves…)
For this week’s practice, I invite you to look at the natural world around you, or in your home, and offer yourself some time simply to be with the qualities you experience as you connect with whatever invites your attention. The intention for this practice is to connect and resonate with qualities that support feeling grounded, present, inspired, steady, patient, serene, comfortable, or whatever other quality would be of help to you at this time. Allow your body to soak in the sensations of that quality, offering yourself the gift of its touch to be absorbed by your whole bodymind being.
I don’t light candles these days, because of curious fur-faces, but you could even light a favorite candle and connect with the flame and the way it dances and changes as it burns. There might even be a favorite object that inevitably elicits a quality in you that would be a gift right now.
The key thing with this practice is to offer yourself an opportunity to fill up with a quality that nurtures you right now. We are all dealing with tremendous stress and with challenges that would stretch most of us beyond our usual coping capacities. Taking just a few moments to fill up with the experience of qualities that settle the nervous system and psyche can mean a great deal to our overall sense of health and well-being.
As with all these practices, there’s no right way to do this one. Instead, please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise. Mixed feelings are often part of inner experiences and explorations, as well, so please also make room to receive and welcome your inherent wholeness.