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One of the best ways to deal with depression - when one is feeling sad or down for living a hard life - is to become aware of the lessons that a tree is able to teach. The trees are not that busy, they are not anxious, persevere in one point, let the roots grow strong, and face all seasons of life with tenacity and calmness. Below there will be eight points on how to develop a sacred relationship with ‘Sister’ Tree. But before, let’s check two views of depression from some experts on the subject.
Nature and its splendors are always the greatest sources to dwell in the imagery of one’s own depression or one’s soul initiation. The skill to notice, of being still, and to develop a friendship with them through silence are activities just like the others ones, that requires perseverance and practice. The eight guidelines on how to observe and contemplate a tree, along side with silence and nature, is a powerful exercise that only those who have experienced know well.
Next time you are feeling down, just take a day off, go for a walk in the rainforest, away from the crowd, from the business of life, and notice them. Then, follow the guidelines expressed by another great counsellor and friend of mine, Richard Fay:
1. The tree offers gentle hospitality. It doesn’t ask anything of you except presence. Just be present to her.
2. The tree bears its ‘gory’ along with its glory. Our doubts, fears, and failures are as welcome as our successes and joys. Be present to both. Listen and attend to yourself.
3. The tree invites, it never demands. Nothing is needed but your soul’s presence. Don’t perform for yourself. Relax.
4. The tree does not try to be anything other than what it is. Accept yourself as you are. There is no point in self-fixing, self-correcting or self-debating.
5. The tree does not rescue. It lets whatever is to be. It knows a fallen log is food for the future. It knows one’s own failure will bless one.
6. The tree does not spread the seeds of another plant. Don’t worry. Your secrets are safe with ‘Sister’ Tree.
7. The tree is not the forest, but it belongs in the forest by owning itself. Speak your truth only into the forest. Let it be.
8. Silence is the tree’s natural state. Trust silence. Embrace silence. In this case, ‘Sister’ Tree and ‘Brother’ Silence are held by the arms of Mother Nature and Father Sky, whose will be your sacred companions. Let it be.
In this way, there will be more chances for one to have an encounter with the Deeper Connection with the Real World and hopefully and “strangely, you will hear a stranger say, I am with you ” (Rilke).
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Thomas Moore - ex-monk, a musician, a university professor, and a psychotherapist - defends a view that depression can be viewed as the beginning of the revelations of one’s soul. Therefore, he values the slowness, “the subtle shifts in one’s tone of voice and focuses on one’s manner, words, dreams, and the imagery conversation” (Moore, p.150). Parker Palmer - world-renowned writer, speaker, an activist with Ph.D. in Sociology - felt disoriented and angry when a friend of his challenged him when he was going through depression with this question: “You seem to look upon depression as the hand of an enemy trying to crush you. Do you think you could see it instead as the hand of a friend, pressing you down to ground on which it is safe to stand?”(Palmer, p. 66).
Depression as a ‘ground on which is to safe to stand’! Is this for real?
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The Work of Authentic Manhood
Moore, T. 1992. Care of the soul: A guide for cultivating depth and sacredness in everyday life. Harper Perennial Publisher.
Palmer, P. 2000. Let your life speak: Listening for the voice of vocation.