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

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.

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