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

Friday, 31 December 2010

An excerpt from my dissertation

Linden & Grut (2002). Informs us of the ‘Great Prophets’ who in NATURE found “Spiritual renewal… Jesus in the desert, Moses up on the mountain, the Buddha in the forest" (p.22) or an ‘Addict Meeting a Tree’, nature can and does touch us on a very profound and deep level.

Letter from Holland.

Hi Everyone.

I thought you might find this letter useful to read. This is why I do what I do... to have the honour to be a part of someone’s journey, to share in that and to learn from them about my own journey and to discover who I am is truly a great privilege.

I hope you enjoy it.

Sending you all lots of Love, Light and Joy



Hey Geoff,

How are you? I really loved speaking with you last time… I promised you that I should write some of my experiences, I’ve had during the natural awareness games, down.

I am not much of a writer, when paper and pencils come in mostly I am out, he he he. But okay I have to learn, and I really do not know why it is that I don’t like to put my feelings or emotions on paper.

I hope my experience could be helpful to you.


My name is Yolanda and I am a 39 year old recovering addict from Holland. I am in the lucky position that I have joined the game of "find you’re tree" (Meet a Tree), that all happened almost 1.5 year earlier. I really did not know at that point what I could expect from it.

I just did what was asked me to do. Under the guidance of my partner I was brought to my tree. Blindfolded I felt my tree and connected with her. After a couple of minutes my partner brought me back to the beginning. Geoff asked me if I was ok. I was okay. I was now ready to go find my tree. For me then a miracle happened.

In one straight way I walked to my tree and without any hesitation I said “this is her; this is my tree” My partner with very big eyes at that point said ........”Yes it is” Off course I was happy that I found my tree. I felt proud, happy, peaceful and special.

At that point I had really no idea what so ever that this game was a life changing experience for me. That would work down in every level of my life, and most important for me, in my recovery.

During the week after the came, I felt at peace and experienced a feeling of being useful. The feeling of being useful I haven’t experienced for more then 24 years at that point. So that was a major feeling to have for me. It gave me hope and faith that there was deep down, inside of me a good person. Through the year after that, I have to admit, that I never thought about finding my tree that day very often anymore.

Although I talked to Geoff a couple of times there were other thing we discussed. A couple of weeks ago two friends of mine were going to visit Geoff in the UK. They asked me if I would join them. They made my day asking me to join them.

A strange feeling came over me just a couple of days before we were leaving Holland. I told another friend about it. I told him that I had a feeling deep inside of me that something important for me was going to happen there. I could not tell him what off course. It was just a feeling that I noticed.

The first days in the UK were good. I felt good, was happy to be with my dear friends and enjoyed the surroundings. I had a really good time. The third day Geoff asked us if we would like to assist with the game that day. Off course we would. I, to be honest was a little excited inside.

When we arrived in the woods, Geoff started to explain the game to the non addict group, the group of addicts and my friends. All the people were listening, but I felt a little restlessness in the group of addicts. They reminded me of the time I did the game for the very first time. Although I did not play the game this time, I guided a person, I was excited again. There was a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my stomach.

I guided the lady around for the first game, (tunnel vision). I watched how she connected with her tree. And noticed that the restlessness slowly disappeared. After several minutes I guided the woman back to the beginning. Geoff asked her if she was okay. She was okay. So now she could go and find her tree.

I think I was more excited then her at the moment. I hoped so much for her to find her tree and experience the benefits of it all in the future. I was in a distance from her and not paying to much attention to her anymore. I really enjoyed the surroundings, the other people looking for there tree, the sounds of birds, the smell of the woods.

I was having a great time and was feeling so happy. My eyes started to get wet at some point I guess it were tears of joy. The lady was still looking for her tree, and in one split second she turned around and pointed in a direction and walked over and found her tree.

I looked at her and said yes that is you’re tree. And immediately started to cry, (as I am doing now). I gave her a hug and apologised for being so emotional. I noticed that the woman, (just like me when I did the game my first time) was not realising how important this experience could become for her in her future live. The thoughts of that made me feel so happy inside.

I watched all the other people and my eyes stayed wet for the rest of the day. I realised that through guiding another person, the power of the game I played 1.5 year ago kicked in my inner soul again. I realised that I could with some exercise, tune in to that inner soul whenever I want to. What a lucky person I am that I had the chance to experience such a powerful tool.

After years of denying my feelings, did not want to feel them. Hiding my emotions behind a poker face, and realising that because of that I did not even know anymore what I was feeling or in what kind of emotion I was.

Today I learn to recognise my feelings and emotions. I do not have to hide from them anymore. The find you’re tree game was for me a very important event in my road of recovery. Because of the game I learned how to tune into my deepest inner soul. I learned that my thinking is not always telling me the truth; I learned that I can trust my HP (Higher Power) if I choose to connect with him.

And I also learned that this is an ongoing process. Once I had played the game the healing power of it is doing its work day in day out, if I keep tuning into the feelings instead of my thoughts every now and then, if I take moments of silence and connect with that feeling, I am convinced that I will grow as a person and the healing process keeps going on.

Thank you Geoff for this great experience.

I love you and am so proud to call you my friend.

Lots of love, joy and laughter,


Sunday, 26 December 2010

The Snake

Oct 23 – Nov 22

Most shamans are born under this Native American animal symbol. The Snake is a natural in all matters of spirit. Easily attuned to the ethereal realm the Snake makes an excellent spiritual leader. Also respected for his/her healing capacities, the Snake also excels in medical professions. The Snake's preoccupation with matters intangible often lead others to view them as mysterious, and sometimes frightening. True, the Snake can be secretive, and a bit dark – he/she is also quite sensitive, and caring. In a supportive relationship the cool Snake can be passionate, inspiring, humorous, and helpful. Left to his/her own devices, the Snake can be despondent, violent, and prone to abnormal mood swings.

Wisdom, Healing, Initiation the symbol of eternity

This is a powerful totem, it is the symbol of transformation and healing.
The Snake is wisdom expressed through healing.

It is a protector and guardian totem,
along with its sister totems, the Dragon and the Serpent.

If a snake totem has come into your life, your creative forces are awakening.
Your intuition will sharpen and be more accurate.

Snake energy is the energy of wholeness, cosmic consciousness, and
the ability to experience anything willingly and without resistance.
It is the knowledge that all things are equal in creation.

It also signals a transition in your life.
New opportunities and/or changes.

Snake is fire medicine, the medicine of transmutation.
On a material level, it is vitality; on an emotional level, it is ambition and dreams;
on a mental level, it is intellect and power; on a spiritual level (the highest level),
it is wisdom, understanding and wholeness.

Snake magic is heavy magic.
Become the Magician and transmute the energy and accept the power of the fire.

The Desert Flute...

In 1991 while preparing in the desserts of Saudi Arabia for the Gulf War, I found I was being woken every morning at around 5am to the sound of what I can only describe as someone playing a flute, it has to be said it was a beautiful sound indeed and I use to just lay there listening to it.

This went on for several days and I began to wonder who could be playing this flute? especially at five in the morning, nor was I was not aware that any of my men could play an instrument. I decided I would find out who it was, so at the end of my morning briefing I asked.

“OK which one of you is playing a flute at five in the morning”?

My men all looked at me as if I had well and truly lost it, “Boss what are you on about, has the prospect of the war got to you already” came one reply, others believed I had just landed from Mars.

I insisted that someone was playing a flute and it was OK as I thought it was wonderful, “now we know you have lost it” came another response as they walked away to get on with their tasks for the day.

“OK”, I said “I will find out who it is”, and so the next morning I awoke once again to this beautiful sound. I jumped out of my sleeping bag and started to head towards where the sound was coming from. I must have walked for about 10 minutes or so, as I rounded one of the many sand dunes I encountered I eventually came to the place where the sound of the flute was coming from.

I was drawn to look up and to my astonishment and total amazement I saw a Hoopoe Lark falling like a stone and tumbling on its way to the ground, having climbed to a great height, it was singing as it tumbled. I concluded that it was the larks singing being cast in all directions and as the song bounced of the sand dunes, this was clearly the sound of the flute.

This has remained with me and without doubt is the most beautiful song I have ever heard, in fact as I write this I have come over all emotional from the recall. Such beauty in the mist of what we were about to enter into was something quite surreal, in amongst the horrors of WAR beauty can be found.

“We just need to be open to it”.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Letter from Turkey

Some four years ago I was working in a Rehab when I first met my friend just a few days ago we were in touch and he told me about how Natural Awareness and being in Nature still helps him with his active recovery. He wrote this letter because he wanted to share some of his experience with you.

England 2006

The first time I participated in the Nature Awareness workshop, I remember being a little sceptic. I wasn’t sure what I was going to be doing. I remember wanting to be over with it as soon as possible as the weather was cold and rainy.

As the games started in the workshop, my eyes were tied with a band and I wasn’t allowed to see anything. I was assigned someone who would help walk as I could not see. First thing I realized was my resistance to any kind of help to walk in the slippery ground. That was quite interesting for me. I really had thought of myself as someone who was open to help.

I realized that I was relying too much on myself and not enough on others. As the game moved forward, I was asked to choose a tree with which I felt a connection. I chose a tree that made me feel good after that my partner took me around on a little walk around the trees so that I would forget the way back to my tree. After a few minutes of walking away from my tree in different circles, the band on my eyes was taken off. I was told to find my tree.

At first, I thought I could trace my step back to the tree but it wasn’t that simple. Then I figured if I could trace myself to the area where the tree was then I could maybe feel which one was my tree. Interestingly, I had a feeling that a tree on my left was my tree. At the same time there was a voice in my mind saying that the tree on my right was the one. I wasn’t sure which voice to trust but I went with the first one. When I hugged it I knew instantly that it was the tree. When I checked with my partner whether that was the tree, I was told yes it was.

It was an amazing experience.

After the first workshop, I attended the Nature Awareness workshop 5 more times. Each time, I got more and more into the workshop becoming aware of the Nature’s healing effect. As a person who has always felt very comfortable in nature, the workshop was a huge support for me in realizing that I didn’t have to do it all by myself and that I could hug a tree anytime anywhere when I felt that I needed a friend. At first, I did think whether or not people would think I was crazy if I hugged a tree but then I said if people smoke them then they can hug them.

I love the nature and feel that the nature Awareness workshop has an incredible healing effect on the mind and soul of a person like me who is very prone to obsessing with millions of thoughts. I sincerely wish that anyone who has the opportunity to participate in this workshop should take the step give themselves a chance.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

As a Child I wanted to go Home...

When I was little I use to cry a lot at night I remember being afraid a lot and when my mum would come to my room and ask me what was wrong. I would tearfully say that I did not want to be here and that I wanted to go home, at the time she thought I had meant go back home to Northern Ireland, you see we had only just moved to Maidenhead.

A few years ago I made the connection to what it was that I was talking about all those years ago.

I do not follow any main stream religion, I just have my own personal relationship with my Creator (I like to call him the Big Guy) as I understand him, and as a result of my upbringing i.e. Northern Ireland I tend to dislike any reference to Christianity for example like the word heaven, I prefer to call heaven HOME and that's when it clicked.

All them years ago I was crying because I did not want to be here on this Earth I wanted to be at HOME with my Creator.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Slow Down Geoff...

On the way to college last week I was driving down the 361 from Barnstaple when a Buzzard took off some distance up ahead of me, it flew over the road and then banked left to fly back over the 361, suddenly another Buzzard that had been resting somewhere on the left verge took off right in front of my windscreen.

I braked and avoided hitting this stunning bird, had I not braked it would have clipped its legs on the top right corner of my windscreen and as with the other Buzzard this one also banked left and flew off in pursuit of the first Buzzard.

I took this experience to mean that I needed to slow down as I can tend to tank it a bit. I then joined the M5 and looking at my clock I realised I was going to be late for college, quickly forgetting about the fact that I needed to slow down I sped up, and soon afterwards there was a car right up my backside with white flashing lights coming from his grill and I could see a camera in his car as well.

I thought, dam or words to that effect I have been dicked, so I pulled in fully expecting to be pulled over but no, the car sped off at a rate of knots, I thought he clearly seems to be on a mission of some kind.

At this point I looked ahead as I was approaching my exit and there just up in front was a mobile speed camera which had just cleared my exit. By my reckoning, had I not braked for the Buzzard or pulled in for the speeding car behind me, I would most certainly have hit the mobile camera doing speed plus.

The say things happen in threes.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Sit-spot in Northern Greece

Some would consider the Sit-spot as forest bathing or tuning in, the name is not important what is important is that you go out and find yourself a Sit-spot and spend time with nature.

I am in Greece at the moment with my friend Rob and while out looking for Bear tracks the other day with the help of our guides we went up into the mountains of Northern Greece. During our search for tracks we decided to do a Sit-spot, while Rob was doing a gratitude prayer a male Sparrowhawk swooped down through the trees and landed on a branch 10 metres away and as it watched us it became aware that I was observing it, at which point it flew off dropping down in front of us and then up and round over the back of our heads.

Rare moments like these are to be treasured, nature has blessed us with her presence, what a magical moment that was.

The Beauty of the Sit-Spot:

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Swimming without rings...

When I am in the swimming pool I like to see if I can get from one end of the pool to the other causing as few concentric rings as possible.

Sometimes it takes me back to my army days, when doing a river/lake crossing and hoping you are not pushing out to many rings to draw attention to yourself.

Try it sometime it takes you to a different place.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Wilderness Therapy

Wilderness Therapy is often considered to be referring to the external environment and there are many discussions about what that means.

Some even feel that the phrase Wilderness Therapy does not describe accurately or even cover all the different aspects of nature-based therapy and some even question it's effectiveness for some groups such as eating disorders.

Can I suggest that Wilderness Therapy may also be referring to the Internal Environment?

Picture: JP

Friday, 3 December 2010

The Drum Stalk and the 12-Steps...

I remember once that a client I was working with related his experience of the Drum Stalk to the 12-Steps.

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable.

"Wearing the blindfold reminded me of being active in my addiction and my sight guide represented the Fellowship and my Sponsor, there to pick me up when I fall over and to guide me but not to tell me what to do"

Step 2
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

"As I walked through the Cathedral of Trees I never once bumped into a tree nor did I fall over or even hurt myself"

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

"The Drum Beat was my Higher Power calling out to me, guiding and reassuring me that the way forward was safe"