I immediately sense the silent acceptance they offer and the whispers of truth on the wind that blows gently through branches high above me.
I notice the puzzles present in the bark-covered trunks where insects navigate endless pathways. I feel cradled in the gentleness of this place. I look skyward. I am filled with a sense of awe and wonder which invokes the sweetness of my inner innocence. The atmosphere of the pine forest welcomes me home as one among all others who dwell here.
I feel a primal wildness awaken in me.
It invokes the desire for elemental freedom and feeling the fullness of being alive. I want to feel the earth touching my bare feet as I root around for where the darkness and shadows reveal the sources of life itself. I become more aware and in love with the delicate balance of life and death, suddenly know something more of my own strength and vulnerability.
Do you remember any specific time in your memory, whether still vivid or now faded, of being in a forest where you felt moved by the encounter? You may want to close your eyes and go back in time to that moment as if it was happening now. Take you’re time. What do you see both generally and in more detail? Are you viewing this experience as if you are in it or are you watching what is happening? If you had to teach me about what the atmosphere feels like, what would you say? Does anything come to mind as you find yourself back in this place and time? What does your imagination say about the experience? Does your experience affirm Alan Watts’s suggestion that “your skin does not actually separate you from the world, it’s a bridge from which the world flows into you and you flow into the world”2.
Such moments offer an invitation to enter more deeply into experiencing the forest.
Then a more subtle level of noticing with your whole being can open you up to the relational and mirror-like quality of direct experiencing. It can be immediate or take time to develop and notice the embodied responses evoked by the sounds or silence, texture, rhythms created by individual creatures and trees, as well as their collective presence. It may feel delightful or terrifying even if there is no immediate and real danger present. There may be both an allurement and a sense of danger as the forest invites you deeper into experience. It may feel nurturing or break you open to the true beauty and pain of being fully alive.
Given this, forests can teach us a lot about attuning to the atmosphere of places, both exterior and interior.
Maybe you find a tree or the forest reveals something essential about your unique purpose in the world or shows you ways you can be who you truly are “at the center of the image you were born with”2.
May the deep knowing of your place of belonging within the world draw you to the edge and deeply into the forest. As you find yourself amongst the trees, notice your immediate felt sense of the atmosphere, then ask yourself: What do my initial feelings tell me? Are these feelings familiar or new? Do I desire to be immersed in this atmosphere? What messages do I sense from the forest? The answers may surprise you!
1Watts, A. (1960). The nature of consciousness
Available at: https://erowid.org/culture/characters/watts_alan/watts_alan_article1.shtml [Accessed on August 10, 2017].
2Whyte, D. (2007). All the true vows in River flow: New and selected poems. Langley, WA: Many Rivers Press.
Images by Ellen Borggreve can be found at: www.ellenborggreve.com