Life and work get more confusing year by year, and that’s unlikely to stop in future. Spending time in Nature is a great way to reduce its stress and find clarity, but what do you do when you have to make a decision, in your workplace or at home, within the next few minutes? The Treeheart process can help you do exactly that.
I have been creating and running a woodland retreat centre for the past 27 years (www.hazelhill.org.uk), so it won’t surprise you that I personally find trees a great source of strength and clarity. However, it has been very satisfying to see that the same is true for hundreds of people who visited this wood over that period.
You don’t need to be anywhere near a physical tree to do the Treeheart process, but it does help to visualise a tree before you start. Perhaps you have a favourite tree that you visit sometimes, or a picture of a tree on your wall… Once you have pictured a tree, use that to imagine yourself merging with the tree, and imagine that you yourself have roots, trunk, and branches, then take yourself through the following four stages.
You can use this process to help yourself get calmer and clearer about all kinds of situations which may be perplexing you. For modest challenges, this can hopefully help you get some clarity within a few minutes, for bigger issues, you may need a longer time, and it could be really helpful to take yourself outdoors for a walk while you use this process.
Roots: Starting where you’re at, recognising the truth of the situation, the ground you stand on. Imagine that your roots are spreading out into the substance of the challenge you’re facing.
Trunk: A tree is both solid and flexible, and it grows slowly. As you imagine the trunk of your own tree, feel your own solidity, and use this to bring in the quality of patience, giving space to the problem. Although you may feel time pressure, take a few deep breaths, and imagine that you can give yourself even a minute or two of spaciousness to allow clarity to emerge from the tension.
Heart: Imagine your own heart is deep in the trunk of your tree: breathe into your heart, let yourself smile and relax a little, and call in the quality of trust. Have faith and trust that there is a good outcome to be found here, and maybe you don’t have to make it emerge: if you relax, it might arise naturally.
Fruits: A tree reaches up and out to produce its fruits, nuts, berries and blossoms. Imagine your tree producing a fruitful outcome to this challenge, like a shower of blessings, which is helpful to you and everyone involved.
I use the Treeheart process to help deal with everyday problems in a few minutes, and I also use it at more length, repeatedly, to help me handle my feelings of alarm and overwhelm about big issues like climate change. The form of the process I have described to you is my own creation. It draws upon a Sufi meditation created by Neil Douglas Klotz, author of my favourite book, Desert Wisdom.