Exploring our soul forest

Mankind has always been afraid of darkness. For good reason, as this is indeed a place where danger may hide. And yet…

There are other animals that prefer the dark of night, precisely because it offers them safety and allows them to hide from their predators. Or sometimes because they are the predator, and they like to hide in shadows when they stalk their prey.

This post is about darkness of a different type. The type that we find within our very soul. And which we all fear. Or do we? Maybe sometimes we like to hide there, contemplate irrational fears so as not to have to confront the very real challenges that life offers.

My posts are usually about trees, and how they have helpful messages for us. This one is no different, only the protagonist this time will be the forest itself rather than a particular tree. If the woods could speak, what would they have to say about this? Listen then, and hear what they have to say:

I am forest. I am made up of many separate beings, all individuals, but together, they are me. That makes me not so different from you… For who are you, really? Made up from so many different aspects of your psyche, with sad thoughts stalking happy thoughts and trying to eat them…

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Now I would like you to try this little experiment.

Start a meditation. Close your eyes. Take some time first to relax, then open your inner eyes.

You find yourself in the middle of a woodland. Look around you. What do you see? Is it dry or wet forest? How close together are the trees? Deciduous or coniferous? What about the wildlife? Do you see any? Mostly birds or mostly ground animals? Or is your focus more on worms and insects?

This is your inner forest. Walk around in it. Greet the trees, connect with the animals. Is this a place where you would like to live? Why?

Now, sit down. Concentrate on your own feelings. Notice how changing your focus changes the forest around you. Not just in obvious ways. For your forest is an ecosystem that constantly tries to restore its balance.

Think an unhappy thought. Focus, just for a moment, on something you worry about. How does the wildlife in your forest react? Do the seasons change? Anything about the vegetation?

Try to see this as a method of divination, a way to speak the language of your soul.

How is this helpful? The forest is a representation of you, your subconscious self, but is more than that: it is you, in a way that is disconnected from your everyday self. That makes it more neutral. You may notice that for some negative thoughts, the forest barely reacts. This can tell you which of your worries are illusionary, while others may actually threaten the survival of the forest, even as you downplay them.

Learn to speak your inner language. Use it to connect to your roots. And may it help you remember that the nonhuman world is so very closely connected to you. And as you learn to connect to your inner forest, do not forget that the ones growing on this planet need your attention as well. And maybe, just maybe, your newfound communication skills will serve you out there as well?

Musings on the other: living in the forest

Who are we? What does it mean to be that person? Questions which probably just about everyone asks themselves at some point in our lives. And the inevitable conclusion is that we are uniquely ourselves, not any of the other beings on this planet.

And yet at the same time, we share this planet with all these other beings. And it is already an enigma to get to understand ourselves. So how do we cope with the rest of the world then? We do the only thing we reasonably can do: we start from our own experiences of life, and project these out onto others, assuming that they are probably similar enough to us for this to make some sense at least.

But what if we are wrong? What if the life experience of someone else is so radically different from ours that their reaction to a situation, their hopes and dreams, their fears and dislikes, are completely incompatible with our own? What if we completely misunderstand the world around us because we assume everyone thinks and feels like us?

How far-fetched is this fear? Everyone needs to eat, and look after their wellbeing, and so they must be similar in their reactions, right? But the first problem already becomes evident here. Everyone needs to eat, but every body has different nutritional needs and hence will naturally experience different cravings (tv commercials try to all have us want the same things, but…). That is the most innocent example of all. Wellbeing already is a veritable minefield. What is required for us to feel well?

You may want a certain type of relationship that someone else would find abhorrent. You may need your freedom and will seek solitude even within a relation, while another person craves to be with their beloved every second of every day. Wanting the same things? Really?

And right now we are only on the level of genetics. Aspects of who we are that are already mostly determined at birth.

Who are you? What is your life experience? What are your aspirations? Realize then, that this is who you are and that that shape was given to you mostly by your dreams. By those around you that inspired you, gave you chances, left you free to walk the path that life intended for you.

Do you give the people around you that same freedom? Do you dream with them, even when you do not understand their vision? Do you allow them space to grow? Think about this. The forest teaches us that the amount of sunlight available is limited, and yet we all deserve our moment in the sun. And that is why none of us were created alike.

Some of us prefer to live our life close to ground, basking in the sun of early spring, accepting that the day will come when the faster growing brambles will surpass us. But that is ok, as long as they do not forget to leave the delights of early spring to us.

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And then there are the trees. They grow large. They compete with each other in who gets to occupy which part of the sky. They are the kings of the forest. And yet they will never forget that they are part of a greater whole. Through their roots, they share with the soil, and bring some of the sunlight down for the benefit of others.

They are the mighty ones now. But immer aware that one day they will leave this world forever. And on that day, their treasures will be shared out. All the sunlight consumed in a lifetime, solidified, will turn back to soil. To feed and nourish the next generation of forest dwellers.

None of us are the same. Some of us are not even remotely similar to us, their life experience almost unrelateably far away from ours. Yet, remember that we share a forest, and how interconnected we all are.