Forest bathing

spring forest

There’s a place in North Wales where forest is like no other. Gentle yet imposing, soothing yet dark. It never fails to stir the soul within me. Air so fresh it speaks of the deepest, most nourishing sturdiness and wisdom. It compares only to the most delightful embrace where I bury myself utterly in bliss. Forest bathing is by far my favourite spiritual experience where my body comes alive in completely in tune with my soul and I feel complete, at home.

One such experience earlier this spring reaffirmed my love for the forest yet again and spoke to me loudly of a place of belonging. As I walked deeper into pine kingdom covered in emerald moss I felt myself coming alive in every cell in me. Both my skin and soul screamed for exposure, immersion into what I can only describe as the light of spirit, ancient and completely perfect

Its welcoming voice whooshed through tree tops roaring me into its body and I became as one with it. Stripping layer after layer till bearing all I gently rested on its moist floor never wanting to be anywhere else ever again. Complete bliss enveloped my senses and pure peace entered my soul. I wanted to stay in that glorious house for eternity. Such feeling is rarely replicated in life. Like a mother the earth licked my exposed feet with soft caresses and I felt myself melting into the ground. It took a while to awake myself into the world again and sorrow of separation entered me as I left the forest.

forest bathing

 

Life is not about you

Last night I had a dream where a message was written clearly out against a dark background

“Life is not about you”

It didn’t go unnoticed and I woke up with a sharp sense of “yes, that is so true”, feeling somewhat light and liberated. My thoughts then proceeded with further exploration of this message. The World is not about you, me, her or them. It is all about life and death and that bit in-between we need to figure out for ourselves. No one is nothing owes us.

Notice what this feels like to understand what life is about. Us humans with our consciousness and super brains, perhaps, as someone said, developed too much with our attachments, our traumas, cognitions that often go wrong, our inability to accept and emotions that go unacknowledged even though emotions came before thoughts in DNA memory. It is tough. I have been hearing again and again over the last few days that we are animals not fit for this age. The advances around us are not fit for the level of our tolerance/coping that we have. There’s some truth and evidence in that. Many are finding comfort in going back to basics and living in simplicity. The world is too much. It is filled daily with things we struggle to comprehend and learn to deal with either by convincing ourselves it is all normal and ok or we seek to escape and put fingers in our ears pretending it is not really happening, or at least not to us, not this time in any case. No wonder it is tough. It seems it is not really about the survival of the fittest, but about ones that accept reality as it is and seek simplicity in being in life. Yes, often that means away from it all and often doing what is only within your capacity and no more. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to move away from it all and, perhaps, that is a wise thing to do, something within us seeking to return to the origins of things. Understanding that the world is not about you and you are not the world but a fleeting moment in its history. Finding what makes that moment worthwhile for you is the thing, keeping yourself well, grounded and authentic, by which I mean staying realistic with what is happening around and either choosing to get swallowed by it or not.

Life is not about you, but more often than not we are offered a choice and that’s a plus of the existence. It is freedom to a degree to take a certain direction that might throw light on what your life is really about.

When we go into nature and stand in a forest trees don’t go ‘I am here, notice me’. Flowers and birds don’t pretend to know more than they do or performed harder than they know how and their sheer individual beauty is not in competition. Yet something within a human always has that ‘I am here’. Dissatisfaction comes from a place of never fulfilling that ‘I am here, notice me’ cry out, which doesn’t ultimately get answered on outside. It is only when stepping out of ourselves we can notice even though only for a minute how ‘unnoticeable’ we really are in the big picture of the world. It doesn’t happen easily though as I think that egotistic way of looking at the world is wired within our DNA, which is hard to separate from. It is liberating though when those moments do happen.

Another year, another joyful experience

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One of the most magical sights of the whole year – bluebell woods, a time when deep blue, purplish coloured flowers cover the ground of ancient woods and it is magnificent. Not only it is delightful to the eye it is reviving to all senses, as bluebell fragrance is fresh and beautiful.

The forest is very pleased with itself wearing the spirit colours of green and purple. I wish I could bottle a sense of freshness and a delicate scent that spreads in the air and on the jewelled forest floor. Birds delight in spring so much so it makes me want to open my wings up and fly towards the tops of virgin foliage. Spring fills me with such joy I can’t stop smiling and breathing in the air. If I was not to be here tomorrow this is the scene I will take with me in my memories and dreams. I am grateful for having witnessed a spring bluebell forest once again, for another year…

Walking into spring

Imbolc, meditation walk in nature

I went outside and was met with a cold wind on my skin and a bright sun reflected in my hair. I squinted towards the light and took in the wind’s cold embrace into my face with pleasure. I exhaled all I no longer wished to carry.

When I walk in nature I always find I begin to breathe properly, deeply, slower, more aware of each inner and outer breath. I stop, close my eyes and feel into my body, as nature surrounds me. Birds’ wild swooping above my head and a distant calling of their comrade wakes me up into my walk again. I begin slowly and steadily on my path, through some farm fields and into a wooded area. I become aware of a chant, as I carefully watch my steps and feel pressure against the earth with delight and embodied knowing. The chant becomes louder mud, sticks, stones and trees; mud, sticks, stones and trees. As I repeat the words I am completely and fully aware of where I am, who I am, what I am doing and my breath has never been more profoundly present. I close my eyes again and stand still for a minute continuing reciting the words again and again and with each in-breath I feel full of life. I also become aware of my body in a way that it carries me every day. I am grateful for my legs and feet that allow me to be in nature whenever I feel like it. A grounded walk is all I ever need to come back to myself.

It’s just passed Imbolc and the air is filled with hope and anticipation. Everything around us is waking up, yet everything is still, about to move, about to sprout, but not just yet. It is pure joy and excitement. I love early spring and begin to crave some warmth and softness of soil in my hands, as I begin to plant seeds in my garden. Every year with the arrival of copper topped trees that unveil in the landscape I see Brigit with her red hair. She is singing and calling in the birds for a dance. Young, free and beautiful she plays amidst trees in pure knowledge of her own divine force and power to bring creativity into our new spring and support us as this new cycle begins. Soon everything will explode in ecstasy of spring and with a fragrant fresh air we are reminded there will be light, warmth, harvest and bounty to be had in months to come. She stands in the middle of the woodland grove in white and green clothing cupping a white candle. She sings and bows to trees, then sits down to play a tune on her flute and writes a poem with a goose feather wand. I observe in reverence and silence and my own heart is filled with immense gratitude, peace and authentic energy of myself being here and now, in this moment and that is all there is and it is utterly beautiful. A blessing, indeed!

Coming back to the heart… always

solitary witch

It saddens me to become more and more aware of the dissonance within a community that, perhaps, I saw different somehow or wanted to see different, although my own perceptions got me into trouble here. People operate on a level of collective where unconscious shadow material has been playing out in the world on a large scale over the last few years and always had done really when we think about it. It is no wonder to see it spreading into all sorts of groups whether consciously or unconsciously. What is important for me is to stay aware in that energy of what is really happening and what is ultimately important, essential to me. Troubled exchanges I have witnessed within a community reminded me strongly of other communities many others identify with. A need to belong gets us into trouble too very often when taken to an extreme. Luckily for me that is not an area I struggle with, but nevertheless one can see it happening every day and it is not wrong in and of itself it is extremities of any kind that creates a space of non-safety for many paradoxically and unconsciously. I have been a witness and stayed away from strong, open identifications yet what recent experiences reaffirmed to me is that the decision to be a solitary practitioner is what works for me. I came in as a solitary and I leave as a solitary and that is the most neutral and comfortable for me. That much has always been clear, but I did allow myself to explore and experiment mainly to test out my own choosing. It exposed the reason why I am solitary even more due to my feeling the energy rising from within the collective and witnessing it on one hand for what it is, but at the same time not wishing to add that particular pallet to my overall painting, which is my own spiritual practice. There is sadness and within that a sense of hopelessness for the overall whole yet what I can only do is to commit further to my own walking the earth with what feels aligned with my integrity and heart.

It has become apparent to me this morning I want to change names on my pages and my website not so much to dis-indentify from something, but to reaffirm something for myself and my practice. However, I also know I don’t like labels. I feel labels do not serve the heart and have an unconscious attachment to what is not always the right thing for you and the right thing for me is what it is all about as far as my practice, awareness and development goes. Coming back to the heart centre, strength point, power cup, essential space of your being or whatever you choose to call that point of safety, knowing and honour for yourself, is all that matters. It re-grounds us in our beliefs and practices and re-balances any uncertainties that naturally would come in and out of our experiences. There is no judgement on yourself or others there is only acceptance of things for what they are and how they are. Compassionate understanding for others and your own choices is all that is important.

And into the woods I go, on my own, just as it should be, and just what is needed for myself and the universe at large. My path is of the solitary Elemental witch and it is so for a reason and I hold it dear and let nature guide me as always towards my heart.

Coming back to yourself – identity and spirit

russian forest in autumn

As a psychotherapist and a transpersonal approach practitioner the aim of my work with clients is to facilitate making ‘whole’ and help clients get back to themselves, get back ‘home’.

This time of year brings me closer to my roots, to my ancestors of birth and land. I begin communicating with and seeing them more clearly. My food changes according to how they had eaten and I occupy myself with activities, music, books that had been familiar to them. Most of those traditions are closely woven with nature cycles, seasons. My home and people carry nature in their blood. It is as natural to us as mother’s milk. All traditions and customs that we undertake every season is never questioned by anyone. They are observed in a way that flows very naturally between generations, genders and ages. There is this common knowing, understanding and love of nature. We are in a very close relationship with all things nature. Spirit, emotions, intellect and physical sensations can all be linked to our expression through a relationship with nature. There are references to it in literature, poetry, music and language is filled with a variety of descriptions of moods, changes and emotion-evocative experiences. Nature is a living breathing being for my ancestors and myself.

What happened to me five years ago was a shift, a push towards ‘home’, back to myself. I needed to get back to my roots from which I also needed to cut off for some time in order to survive and fit in. I had to start a process of remembering, re-integration, re-igniting of my knowledge, resonance and love of what roots and home meant for me. This journey also connected me to the land that I currently live on and through finding striking similarities in the landscape and the emotions that it evoked in me, that remembering of ‘home’ journey became very rich and fulfilling. The process happened with nature spirit flowing through me at all times. I connected to my roots through learning and remembering about trees, weather patterns, the elements, magic, plants, my love for certain things in nature and remembering and connecting who I was then and who I am now in terms of what spirit lives within me.

I am writing this after watching a wonderful presentation on ‘Identity and spirituality’ as part of my CPD and it reminded me of my own process of connecting with my roots and establishing a solid knowing and understanding who I am now through who I was then and the process of becoming and evolving. It is the process of finding what is at the centre of my being.

In my practice I feel passionate about working with both issues, identity and spirituality, and both are closely linked in making ‘whole’.

It opens up discussion about your beliefs on whether we are spiritual beings having an experience on Earth or are we human beings with a spiritual nature. It might mean the same to some, to others there are clear differences. It would depend on your own personal experiences regarding spirit and beliefs about life on earth and afterlife. To me, spirit is an integral part of who we are along with our other aspects or functions, cognitive, emotional, physical and all operate together and ideally harmoniously. However, where there is a lack of presence or distorting in operation in one or more of these functions then a ‘whole’ is disturbed. For example, a person struggles to express their emotions or their thoughts are distorted or they manifest their difficulties rooted in the mind or heart through the body or their spirit is asleep or remains unreachable or unknown. In my work as a transpersonal therapist I aim to bring a person into balance, and to get all functions/aspects operating together and in harmony.

My sacred woodland

Across the road from my house there lies a woodland. It is a short pleasant walk into what is a sacred place to me. At first sight it might seem like nothing particularly special, big or of any significance, yet to me it means everything. It is a sacred crucible, which has been holding my pain and joy, ecstasy and turmoil and provided a solid presence and acceptance for many years now.

The way I would describe it in a way of imagery is a circle of greenery, it is a round shape, not too big, positioned slightly more to the left off the path although it stretches to the right too with a path running all the way round it and across it. It inhibits the lives of many oaks, holly trees, silver birches and smooth-skinned beeches. There are many hidden groves within the woodland where one cannot be seen from any of the paths and it feels like one is in a safe hold of the forest floor, trees above and plants all around. I often feel hugged by my guardian trees and most of them I can climb in between, as they stand in clusters. There is a brook running through the middle, small, narrow, but very alive with vibrancy of the crystal clear water.

In spring the woods change its flooring to vibrant purple of bluebells and the smell stretches all senses in a delicious dance of delirium. The joy is indescribable and it takes my breath away every time. In summer it is near to impossible to go off the path due to overgrowth of ferns and brambles and the air is so still I can hear my heart beat. I hold my breath in surrender to the cooling shelter that it provides amidst the heat of summer days.

In autumn it is very pleasant and paths yet again begin to open up for accessing all the hidden little groves, beginning to invite us slowly into the heart of the woods and our inner worlds. Here I cocoon myself for an hour or so doing magic or simply lying on the floor merging with the earth. There is a notable chill in the air, but so refreshing and, of course, the golden attire of trees never fails to get me to the floor kneeling before its majesty. In winter it is bare in all its glory and I can see the most intricate silhouettes of trees entwining their branches and huddling together against the wind. Stunning in their nakedness they stand strong in their vulnerability.

This woodland has been in my heart for many years and witnessed my process intimately holding all my secret heart desires and painful experiences. I never once left this place without a resolution, an answer or a transformation of some kind. It works every time. It is my trusted teacher, friend, guardian, counsellor, mother/father, the divine. It is something I can’t imagine my life without and its vibration has been aligning with my own for many moons whether it was performing my nature spells, meditating, talking to trees or spending time in close embrace with the earth smelling and feeling the glory of its body and soul. It might be a simple woodland, yet to me it is sacred and precious.

I now intend to take other people on soul quests through this wonderful place where I hope they, like myself, will find resolution, understanding, healing and transformation. I offer OUTDOOR therapy for clients in the UK, Uxbridge area.