Monday, July 16, 2012


by Kate Collins

No really. Go climb a tree. Not a real one, although that would be awfully fun. I mean one in your mind. It’s a grounding exercise I learned once upon a time that I now use in a class that I teach at my local women’s shelter.

Here’s how it works. You imagine a tree in detail. Is it fully bloomed and leafy green? Is it brown and bare? Is it in the golden hues of autumn? Is it a sprawling limbed tree? Sturdy trunk? Maybe an apple or peach or cherry tree loaded with ripe fruit?

Then picture yourself sitting on a branch. Make it a thick one so you feel safe. If you’re afraid of heights, then wrap your arms around the trunk. You won’t fall.

Now look down and then around. What do you see?  Picture this scene in your head first, then read on.

Do you see a meadow? A sandy beach? A lake? A park? Landscaped lawn? Garden? Are there people in your scene? Anyone you know? Are you looking at the present or at the past, maybe a scene from your childhood when you really sat in a tree and looked down?

I’m not a psychologist, but I think what a person sees is telling. At least that’s what I’ve learned from the women at the shelter. Some simply can’t imagine it. Others see freedom, and still others see their children playing happily, with no worries.

My scene varies. Often it’s from my childhood, when I’d escape into a high branch of our old cherry tree and dream. And eat cherries, too, until the year they had worms.

What do you see? Is it from days gone by or is it a dream place? Did imagining it come easily to you? And most importantly, did it give you a feeling of peace? Because that’s the ultimate point of the exercise, to find a serene place to go in your mind when you’re feeling stressed.  I think we can all use that.

Have a serene week.