Jane O’Rourke guides us through a tree visualisation exercise to help us connect with nature when feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Jane is a Yoga and Meditation Teacher, and a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist with Children, Young People and Families. She teaches Yoga4Trauma within the Trauma Service at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.
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Hello, my name is Jane O’Rourke. I’m a Child, Adolescent and Family Psychotherapist, and I’m a yoga and meditation teacher. Today we are going to do a tree visualisation.
Many of us are finding that being in nature can be really helpful when we are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it helps to calm the nervous system and there is lots of evidence that people who suffer from depression or anxiety are helped by being in nature.
So, before we begin, start to find a comfortable posture, perhaps sitting on a cushion or maybe just sitting on the floor, or you can be standing if you like. And being able to relax the spine enough to feel comfortable but you are aiming for a straightish back. Relax the neck, just notice if you are holding any tension in your shoulders, soften the jaw, and you can start to soften the eyes by either lowering the eyes or just keeping them open a little.
And start to feel your connection with the floor and the earth below. By feeling the connection with the earth we can feel also the qualities of the earth, the feeling of steadiness and calm, that’s always there for us whenever we need it. And then I invite you to remember a tree that you might have seen, maybe on holiday or maybe it’s just closer to home. A tree that has made an impression on you, for its strength and solidity, and if you like imagine yourself next to this tree, and you can look up into the branches into the canopy, seeing the leaves and the sun glinting through the leaves, and the sky beyond. And noticing the strength of this tree, its trunk and the branches that reach out, up to the sky. And of course, like us, trees have had to weather storms and periods of draught, and in these times they grow deeper roots. And for us when things are difficult it is important that we can dig deep too, that we can reach into our resources, and connect with others and find strength and solidity by doing so. So in this way the tree is a friend and we can imagine ourselves growing roots into the earth when we are sitting here.
On an each in breath bringing up the qualities of the earth, of strength, solidity and steadiness and on the out breath a releasing and letting go. So imagine this in your breath cycle, bringing up strength and solidity on the in breath, all the way up through the body. And on the out breath a releasing and letting go back down to the earth. And all the while feeling your connection to the earth.
It’s known that oak trees, for example, do much better in groups, as often we do too. We need other people to help us in times of adversity and when oak trees are feeling compromised and maybe they have had an attack of fungus or they have got some insect invasion the other oak trees send nutrients in their roots to them.
And so bringing to mind someone you know who is feeling that this is a time of difficulty for them, they might be struggling or in pain, or stressed, or anxious. And bringing them to mind and sending your good wishes to them and you can say to them “may you be happy, may you be healthy, and may you live with ease and grace”. And then letting them say to you in return “may you be healthy, may you be happy, and may you live with ease and grace”. And then sending out your good wishes to everyone who needs it, everybody you know and everybody in your wider community and the world beyond. You can say to them “may you be happy, may you be healthy, and may you live with ease and grace”.
So as this image of this mighty tree that you have been visualising fades, know that this is a resource that you can come back to anytime when you need to feel more grounded and stronger. And know that receiving compassion and good wishes from everyone is also available, and it’s what you can do for others too. So very gently, coming back into the room in your own time.