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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Tears on the Drum

We are standing together, my long-lost brother and I,

On the sloping deck of a holed and dying luxury liner.

We are sharing a fine cigar because we have no jokes.

He is talking about the grandfathers who went before.

Today I understand, how these proud men,

Lonely and afraid, could rise up smiling

In far-off, strange, unhallowed places

With mud on their tongues and tears on the drum;

How they could gather, to pick sweet poppies,

The red, red poppies, and when they were gathered,

To walk together, into the morning,

The misty morning, and die together.

We need to weep awhile, my long-lost brother and I

But we both know the score - there's never the time.

So we wave once more at the distant boats. Then

We smile, hold hands, and walk down into the water.

William Ayot

Monday, 29 March 2010

The Little Seeds Lay Sleeping in the Earth Dreaming of becoming big oak trees one day...

In late Autumn, the cold winds begin to blow telling all the plants to send their root children back to bed under ground to sleep until the winter is past. The golden sunlight dries the seed babies and prepares them for their journeys. Some of the seed babies are found by the animals and eaten or stored away for the cold winter months, but not all of them.

The gnomes (spirits of the Earth, rocks and minerals) go out to collect the seed babies to take them underground and put them to bed under blankets of leaves. The seed babies must sleep all winter long and not wake too soon so Mother Earth sings to them, many songs. Here is one of them that is especially good during the bleakest depths of Winter.

"Cradled cosily, cradled deep. Deep in the Earth, baby seeds sleep.
Light we shine on you, light divine. Seeds in the Earth twinkle and shine.
When the Spring sun comes to the sky, it will warm the dark Earth and bid you arise.
Mmm mmm, mmm mmm"

Nicky Gould

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Crystals at work and attachments...

The sands of time...

A friend recently gave me a crystal that she found in Tunisia. When I saw it it reminded me of a Rose and it felt nice to hold. It also reminded me about life the crystals are growing in every way but which way and yet what appears to be a complex way of growth, actually gives it strength.

It shows that we can all take a different route in life but no one person is more important than the next because we all need each other, to prevent this growth would destroy the crystal of life.

In giving the crystal away my friend showed no attachment to it and one day I feel I will pass this onto someone else in life if we can let go of attachments to a particular outcome in my experience we grow beyond who we are in that moment, creating a new insight to our personal world both in the internal and external landscape..

Friday, 12 March 2010

Letter from Northern Ireland - Meet a Tree & Autism...

In my life, the 'bubble' that I live in I have become oblivious to all around me, nature, beauty, the openness and breath that God surrounded me with Autism is now my world. I observe it, learn from it, live it, abide by its rules and often despise it's limitations, but yet it surrounds me in my boys, it imposes on our lives refusing to pull back like a Sergeant controlling the troops, we live by its rules. But there is hope!

My three boys are all on the 'autistic spectrum' the youngest with limited speech and severe learning difficulties but with a heart as big as an ocean. The middle son has amazing knowledge and battles daily with this enemy (autism) that he feels has invaded his life, and the eldest who has yet to see what wonderful plans God has for him and does not admit to having Asperger's.

I had read the Letter from Holland on this blog and felt inspired by the Dutch lady who wrote it and about her experiences of the tree game (Meet a Tree); to be honest I was quite sceptical about it. However we had been staying at our caravan for the summer and the weather had been disastrous a day never mind a week of constant rain with any child especially a child with autism and cabin fever was rife.

I had been watching the boys that particular night playing, Jordan drawing pictures and becoming frustrated when it didn't conform to his precise expectations and Nathan getting upset and screaming because Jordan was making too much noise (a sensory thing). I suddenly remembered that no one was having fun and it made me remember how when I was young being outside with our imagination was all we needed and how we would play for hours. Simple things can often provide the most profound thoughts in living day to day with autism we had forgot how to laugh and have fun.

It scared me that I couldn't remember the last time I stopped being a mum with three special needs kids and started just a kid myself having fun with my children they say there is always a 'get out clause' well that night I decided tomorrow I was going to use my 'get out of jail' card and me and my boys where going to laugh and enjoy fun together.

The next morning I awoke and it was raining again but I am nothing if not stubborn and I was determined we were going out into wide open spaces even if it meant raincoats and wellies! The boys after much explaining of our routine for that day were quite excited, sandwiches were chosen, cut in the exact requirements! Everything packed and we were away.

I guess it was only when we arrived at the forest park, that the 'game' came back into mind, we were surrounded by so many beautiful trees and I knew that the play park was quite busy so that wasn't really an option as the boys would have got quite frustrated, so the 'tree game' was decided upon.

If I am honest, when I explained the game to the boys I never really thought it might work my main focus was on how upset and distressed they might feel if it didn't turn out how they wanted it to. Nathan the youngest was the first to go so with eyes covered we chose 'his tree' brought him tom it and let him 'hug' and feel it, then we brought him a different route back from the cluster of trees so as not too make it to easy.

We uncovered his eyes and told him to go find his tree, I am even now smiling when I think of it, as I don't know which of us was more shocked when he walked straight to 'his tree' and gave it a big hug and smiled! At that point both Jordan and I wanted a go, Jordan said he had felt drawn to his tree and I know in my case I had went to go to another tree but it almost felt like a voice was saying don't go there, I am your tree over here, to which I responded to, moving towards the other tree I could hear laughter and clapping from the boys.

We spend half an hour or more finding out trees, and every time we found them, what are the chances of that? Autism may affect most areas if not all of my boys lives but that day nature intervened, it put smiles and laughter on the boys faces, it made a mum who had forgot how to be a kid, play again, chasing the boys, rolling on the grass, playing catch it united us as a family, did it make a difference in my boys lives, yes for that day it did, they forgot the boundaries that are imposed by autism on them.

They had their mum remember that beneath all their behaviours and routines, they were just kids who had that day been given a very special gift by nature and 'the game' laughter and a bond between each of us especially for me. I remembered how to enjoy my kids and how to appreciate special moments no matter how short, without playing and being open to the game that day, barriers that autism has placed in me and my boys lives might not have had the chance to come down.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

I want to do it my way...

While working in Spain I had the privilege to work with a young man who had anger issues over a period of a week. One the first day we went up into the hills to one of the national parks in Spain. With addictions I always like to start with 'Meet a Tree' this is a really good game for getting someone to see that there is something more powerful than ourselves without taking them too far out of the box that it would freak them out to the point that they may not come back again.

The young man and I agreed that this would be the exercise that we would start with, having explained the rules to him. I then took him blindfolded through the woods to a tree that I had chosen before we had even started. It is worth noting at this point that the woodland we were using was about 100 x 100 metres containing the same species of tree which were all roughly the same girth and distance apart from each other and to all intense and purposes it would be difficult to tell them apart without a blindfold.

There is no rush to this game it is about getting results and not necessarily about finding the tree although that is also part of the process. We spent about 15-20 minutes walking through the woodland in all different directions; I did this so that he could not tell where he was by using tracks or sources of light through the trees as a way of direction finding in order to locate his tree. On returning to the start point I removed his blindfold and asked to find his tree. He said that he wanted to do things his way, I said fine go ahead, he then proceeded to search the edges of the woodland trying to identify his tree visually, this simply meant that he was in his head, he did not want to let go of control and he was not quite in a position to trust me yet.

At this point I choose to ignore him and let him get on with what he believed was right for him, as for me I got my binoculars out and did some birdwatching, but in my peripheral I was paying attention to what he was doing, and I was watching his body language for clues to what he might be thinking and feeling. After some time he decided to come over to me and ask for some help in finding is tree. This was the first major step in him trusting me and reaching out to me. I showed him how to connect with his heart, this is key to finding his tree; his head would not help him, as it would lie to him based on how he views the world around him. He got himself into peripheral vision and off he went through the woods sensing where his tree might be.

Some 20 minutes later he left the woodland crossed a track and approached a tree that was standing out on its own from the rest of the wood; it was also a different species as well. He moved slowly and kind of knowingly towards it by that he appeared to recognise the tree, this is quite common and when he touched it he smiled, turned to me and said "this is my tree", he was of course correct, we then processed the events that took place. Afterwards, we started to head back to the rehab and as we walked down the track a Chaffinch landed if front of us... (See The Chaffinch and the Young man's Anger)

Question: What if he had not found his tree, well it is not always important to physically find the tree, however I would like to suggest that the feelings and emotions that come up during the process and the understanding that a person may arrive at is metaphorically speaking their tree.

Monday, 8 March 2010

I am just a Zebra conforming

During the taster day that I held in London just a few days ago something came to light that I found very interesting indeed and I shall now be keeping my eyes open for it in future, well at least the energy behind someones behaviour.

It was during the game Animal Tag, I had someone sat in the middle of the circle that the group had formed, she was blindfolded and had taken on the role of a young deer, The hunter was a friend of mine he was tasked with staking the deer in tunnel vision with the intent to catch his prey so that he could feed his cubs, he was playing the role of a fox.

While the game is being played I always watch for the reactions of the people in the circle, their responses may present me with something to work with in terms of carrying out an intervention. While the fox was stalking its prey the intensity of his focus was very strong, so much so that one member of the group in the circle felt that intensity and he felt that he needed to react to it. However, his body language then change he seemed to relax and he started to look around his environment, even putting his head back to look up at the sky.

During a normal session I would normally ask what was going for that person in that moment. However, on this occasion he offered up the information and what he had to say was very interesting indeed. He said that when he felt the intensity that the fox was sending out, he just wanted to respond to it by taking off. However, just like a zebra on the plains of Africa, once he had realised that he was not the prey and that the lion (fox) was after different animal he relaxed just as a herd of zebras would do in the wild. He said that because he felt that he was in any danger, that he did not need to respond and that he could just relax and watch what happens and was quite happy to just watch the fox make its kill.

How can I relate this to someones addiction? Who knows but I shall be looking out for it in future and I am open to see where it takes me and the group.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Two Trees

I had a first this week.

During the Taster Day one of the group took his blindfolded partner to two trees during the Meet a Tree activity. On their return I asked the blindfolded person to remain blindfolded and I asked her to locate the tree she was most drawn to out of the two she was taken to. She set off and actually went to both of the trees she had been introduced to by her partner, both trees are seen here in the photo.

When I asked what she had experienced she said the that the tree she is standing by in the photo, felt like it was a female and that she felt safe with this tree and the other in the foreground of the photo was more like a male which had suffered during it's life.

This is why I love this work, there are so many things to experience and understand and to be a part of, it's the shared journey that all us including the trees are on it, how can we be separate when you encounter so many miracles.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Concentric rings underwater...

I once worked with a guy who lived in the Caribbean and he shared with me and the group of his experience while diving in the sea regarding nature awareness and the concentric rings.

He made the connection only after having played 'Meet a Tree', he told us that when he would go diving, the marine life would always come up close to him showing no sense of fear or danger. However sometimes they would not come near him and he could not understand why, that is until 'Meet a Tree' from which he learnt about the concentric rings, which we all give off.

The connection he had made, was that the marine life would stay away from him just before he would be about to use drugs, and this may have been days before he himself became conscious of his need to use.