7 months ago · Leah Fogt · 0 comments
For ages, trees have carried a lot of metaphorical, symbolic, cultural, and spiritual meaning across the globe. Art, literature, and spiritual practices present us with many examples of rich metaphors trees can offer us. It’s now wonder then, that tree images can be powerful tools in healing, recovery, and building on strengths. Think about all the different kinds of trees in diverse climates around the world. There are mighty pines, which maintain the green color throughout the year, while others transform and go through cycles of dormancy and rejuvenation. There are palm trees with flexible trunks, able to withstand hurricane force winds. There are fruit bearing trees which offer sustenance.
What type of tree resonates with you? How does it represent your journey? What type of tree helps you build the strengths, skills, or attitudes you need to navigate life with resilience? What parts of the tree are significant to you? The roots, trunk, branches, fruit
Here’s a little about my tree…
Through the years, there has been a cluster of trees in a certain location in Northern Michigan that has always carried a lot of meaning for me. I grew up visiting Traverse City, Michigan and its surrounding areas with my family, and we now have members of our extended family who have made their homes “Up North.” This area has always been a place where I feel connected to my loved ones and to nature, where I can relax and recharge. A place we frequently visit is the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, a part of the National Parks on the shore of Lake Michigan in Empire, Michigan.
In September my husband and I took a trip “Up North” to visit family. I was so eager to show him the places that are so important to me. We visited Sleeping Bear on a chilly, windy day. The sky was gray and spitting misty rain on and off. Not the most picturesque but beautiful in a very different way.
At one spot called “The Lake Michigan Overlook” we came upon the cluster of trees of which I am so fond. I have seen them in gleaming sunshine, blistering heat, snow, rain, and wind. They’re still there. I’m not sure what kind of trees they are – I’m no arborist – but I call them the Brave Trees. Through the many years that I have returned to this spot, these trees have survived. They lean out over a steep cliff-like sand dune, out over the expansive lake 450 feet below. They have withstood the harsh elements, erosion, and time. To me, they represent courage, perseverance, resilience, and fortitude. They are my Brave Trees. When I need to cue up some courage, when I need to stir up some inner strength, these trees inspire me.
There are lots of ways to explore the symbolic meaning of trees using visualization, movement, and art. Consider drawing, painting, or sculpting a tree that you find meaningful. Experiment with “planting your roots” or “waving your branches” through movement. Ask your therapist to guide you through a meditation using tree imagery.
Here is a great guided visualization called “Grounding Tree” from Dr. Jamie Marich, founder of the Institute for Creative Mindfulness.
Categories: Skills and Resources