Our visualization today is from an ancient fern forest. But first I would like to share one of my favourite description of trees by Herman Hesse. It is a long poem, so if you would like to skip to visualization, look for the time stamp in the show notes.
"For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more, I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs, the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity, but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, healthy tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labour is holy. Out of this trust, I live.
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.
So the tree rustles in the evening when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness."
You find yourself walking in the middle of a vast forest, and you have a sensation that you have travelled back to an unknown time. A whisper of luminous gauzy fog floats around the trees — the moisture in the fern forest has the scent of an elixir.
The ferns adorn every tree-trunk and cover the floor of the forest. You notice all the ones you have seen in books with names such as "adder's tongue," "moonwort," "maidenhair" and "spleenwort". You admire the natural elegance of their curving fronds and at the ends of some the fresh uncoiling fiddle-head.
When you look upwards, you notice the foliage of the trees also resemble long fronds of ferns and form such a dense canopy over your head that the sky is not visible.
The carpet of moss you are walking on muffles your footsteps. Even though your footsteps are soft, the noise startles small birds in the undergrowth.
The path crosses a small stream. You hesitate for a few moments to listen to the sound of the water, and then walk over stepping stones and continue along the trail.
You disturb a cloud of red cardinal butterflies. They hover close around your legs and your face for a few moments on wings of jet black and red then fly away.
The trail leads to an ocean cove and a volcanic stone beach. There is a striking contrast between the aquamarine water, black rock, and the lacy foam edging the waves. The stones on the beach have been worn smooth by the tides. They massage the soles of your feet as you walk along the curve of the bay.
After a while, you reach some large rocks blocking your path, preventing you from going any farther.
Tucked away here is a perfectly circular, clear rock pool shaped and carved out by the waves and the tides. You dip your toe in the shallow water and decide to take a soak.
The temperature of the water is perfect. The pool is long enough for you to stretch out comfortably. Above the high clouds resemble layers of gauzy strands. You feel relaxed by the remoteness of this place, the sound of the surf and the gentle ocean breeze.
Someone has carved a small Maori twist design into the smooth black rock on one side of the pool. You trace the shape with your fingers. You understand the traditional knot symbolizes the bond between two people-- This one could have been made long ago by friends, family or lovers.
You notice the sun has shifted lower in the sky and the time has come for you to retrace your steps back through the fern forest.
〰️ Clara 〰️
I am bringing my favourite outside experiences and imaginings to create visualizations that encourage peace and relaxation.