Entering the Emotional Forest
Meditating with the land is different from meditating on the land, as the intention is to include the spirit of the land in the experience. By entering a meditation with the land while remaining connected to the Source of life and soul of the Earth, the possibility of a deeper, more personal experience presents itself. It is when I am connected to Source, the Earth and my own soul that I feel my true self, with an inner strength and certainty of who I am. However, life is full of occasions when a disconnection is “normal.”
There are many ways in which to heal one’s heart. I have opened my heart many times to the spiritual world asking for help in healing my heart-wounds, seeking guidance and growth, or to receive insight or an inner reflection that assists me in some way. Based on my past experiences of healings and meditations with the Earth, it made sense to me that I would ask for the support of the Earth in the following experiences I will share. The physical world has not always felt like a safe place for me to express myself, whereas I have found the spiritual world and the spirit of the Earth, although invisible and not physically graspable, to be a source of unconditional love, support, acceptance, and guidance when I ask.
Sometimes, healing opportunities are simply offered, as in the case at the location near Toyon Drive in Kentfield, CA the first time I went there.
On an autumn day, I sat down on the dry crunchy leaves beneath the oak and madrone trees. The afternoon sunlight rippled through the tree branches creating warm spots that moved with the wind. I had arrived with a humble heart and purpose of discovering the spiritual essence of this land.
I closed my eyes to focus on my inner senses and enter a meditation with the land. I began with feeling my connection to the universe as a stream of light penetrating through the top of my head, traveling down through my body, and into the ground. I then asked to connect with the spirit of the Earth. This connection came through my body from below, like a subtle chill running up my legs and into my heart.
I asked to experience the essence of this land there where I sat, to know its original essence/spiritual function, as the Earth expresses her life energy uniquely in each landscape.
After several minutes, an image entered my mind’s eye of me adorning a nearby tree branch with purple ribbon as a way of honoring it, followed by an image of me sitting in a circle of flowers on the ground, honoring myself in some way.
I asked for more information. Suddenly, thoughts of a former roommate experience involving trust entered my mind. My awareness that this might be a mirror of something I need to look at within led to my asking of the question: where does this trust issue originate? This took me directly to a memory of being very young, when I had first “learned” it was not safe to trust my family. I saw the memory playing out as if I were watching it through my two-year-old eyes. The yelling from parents directed at me, the strikingly painful spankings. My two-year old self had made a conclusion at that young age that I was not physically safe with these people. I observed my innocence at that age and the psychological and physical imprint these incidents had made on me. Emotions bubbled up in me and upon my asking of the Earth to help me release these, I began to experience the tearful release of pain, anger, and fear that I had been holding onto around this. I breathed out open-mouth breaths to help the movement and watched as the emotions poured out from my lower abdomen and heart like hundreds of small black seeds into the ground where the Earth absorbed them.
As the emotions within me became more calm and steady, a higher consciousness opened within my mind, a higher understanding that trust was something I had come into this life to learn about, and it was time to stop wasting my energy on being angry with my family about this. I thought of all the energy that had gone into years of anger, frustration, and mistrust. All this time and energy could now be redirected, if I chose, towards my own self, towards seeing my own worth and trusting myself more.
The final message resonating through my mind and body was that I must honor myself, my heart, and walk the path I am here to walk. This healing continued to unfold in subtle and positive ways in the following months. I saw my level of trust in others begin to open more. My ability to be vulnerable also opened and my trust that it was okay to be this way. It was even an admirable quality to possess.
The spirit of the land in this place reflected its essence through my own personal needs at the time, working with me in a personal way. This experience helped me to see that I had to let go of this thing inside that tied up so much of my energy so that my heart could be more balanced.
About nine months later, a pain surfaced from deep inside of my heart, its tangled roots reaching back to my childhood years. I accomplished the initial recognition and release of this wound with the help of a trusted healer. However, I soon discovered there was more beyond that initial step. For this ache arising from the dark recesses of my heart, I felt I needed the support and love of Mother Earth.
I returned to Upper Toyon Drive with the intention of working with the spirit of the land to heal my heart once again. My previous experience had shown me that this place could assist me with the family-related lessons in my life. And this latest revelation offered an opportunity to work with this land again. New layers of my heart had been unveiled that needed a loving touch and I was ready to do the work.
It was a Spring day and the early morning bird songs and calls were in full swing. I chose a spot in the grass to sit, hoping I would not be disturbed. Maybe it was my nervous anticipation that I might cry here again, or my fear of letting go of the pain inside my chest that prolonged my inability to open my heart. My head was preoccupied with many things. Would I be able to actually go through with this intention to release another childhood pain? Would I be able to focus enough to get into deep meditation here? Would a resident come over in the middle of my meditation and ask me to leave?
I began to share my experience with the land about my recent discovery of a buried heartache. Tears surfaced as I silently shared by replaying in my mind that moment a week ago when I chose to release part of the pain associated with my dad. I asked the spirit of this place to help me with the next piece which was tied to my mom. The tears served as an unexpected way for me to open my heart to the place. I felt within my heart my connection with divine light and the soul of the Earth as a warm inner fire with an outer feeling of being held and protected. Within this sacred connection, I felt my true soul self and I felt secure in knowing that no one would disturb me during this process.
Next, a key word came prominently into my mind as if it were the only thought that existed- insecurity. I became aware of my feelings of this in my life. As I contemplated the word insecurity, a flood of memories rushed through my mind as I inquired about when this feeling of insecurity had first begun. I remembered being an outgoing five-year-old kid and not feeling insecure. What was it that had made me question who I was, doubt my abilities and myself? Why have I felt this way for most of my life?
Occasions when I had to hide how I felt and who I was, and “be quiet” entered my mind.…the teacher at school scolding me for talking too much to my classmate…parents punishing and threatening if I did anything they didn’t approve of…my mom angry at me for something I said or did- I remembered becoming very “small” inside as I heard her speaking about me in an unloving way…that one burned deeply in me.
While revisiting memories through both my child self’s perspective and my higher self’s perspective, I chose to keep my heart open by not shutting down the emotions I was feeling. The most painful one was tied into how my own mother made me feel unloved and unaccepted, even if she had not meant to do that. As a sensitive child, I had taken it in and believed that I was undeserving of love, and incapable of doing things right to earn that love and keep it. I learned to doubt my most essential self, my actions, my voice…. I found ways to reinforce these beliefs throughout my life. And the hurt was hidden away because having such feelings associated with my mother are “unacceptable” in this society we live in. In my present life, I clearly saw how despite being hidden, the undercurrent of these beliefs was still affecting my life.
I asked permission to enter the land and requested help from the soul of the land, an expression of the Earth’s spirit, to heal this burning emotion of hurt concerning my mom. I took some slow deep breaths to reaffirm my connection to Source and the Earth. I sensed my connection with my own soul- a feeling of inner strength, centered in my heart and stomach.
This eventually led into a meditative state in which I experienced a feeling of sinking down beneath my conscious mind, and I had a vision of traveling down into the earth through a tunnel that had opened in the hillside. At the end of the tunnel, I entered a cave-like space where I saw a huge eye, about three times bigger than me, which kept changing to different eyes I did not recognize, until it came to my mom’s eye. As I stared into it, I saw something was missing. Somehow, I felt I was headed straight into her eye, but I chose to enter through her ear instead, as I did not want to go directly into her eye. Once I was behind her eye, I saw an emptiness in an area where there should have been something. I understood that this was due to trauma in her life, soul loss, and I immediately had a better understanding of the complex dynamics of our past interactions. I understood that she had not intended to hurt me or for me to hide my light. She did not know a better way to handle a child at the time. She acted out of what she had learned from her parents. I observed her feeling of powerlessness that had been fed by many events in her life.
I felt I was shown this specifically because it was a way for the land to communicate with me in a way I would understand. By observing her soul in this way, from a broader perspective, rather than from the perspective of a hurt child, I was able to have more compassion.
Next thing I knew, I was leaning over a ledge and peering down at a pattern of grey that looked like grimy old water at the bottom of a bathtub. Its multiple extensions represented the areas of my life that had been affected by my earlier life experiences. I asked how to get rid of it. “Pull the plug” was the answer. So I did. It was so simple! The grime drained away and there was a geometric pattern left behind like the top of a sand dollar with the five loops. As I watched, the looped pattern became alive and shifted into different natural forms- all with the same central geometric pattern of 5 cylindrical ovals joined in the center. My chest began to fill up with yellow-green light. Renewal. I saw the ways in which my mom does show me love. I felt a tingling expansiveness in my chest.
I opened my eyes. I wondered is it done? That yellow-green light was wonderful, but no, I felt something was still unresolved within me… So, I closed my eyes and went back into the meditation. When I asked if there was more, I saw a large round disc. It flipped around to reveal a greyish-black mold-fungus tightly gripping the backside of the disc and a long mold branch leading from that to something else that I didn’t see right away. I reached in and broke the branch, then watched as the yellow-green light from my chest spread out and miraculously dissolved all the pieces of mold as it passed over them.
I turned my head and saw a little girl (a younger version of me) standing in front of an enormously dark and ominous moldy forest. I understood it was the foundation within me that was built around the beliefs of insecurity and fear. The little girl ran off into the dark maze and hid. I felt overwhelm and panic when I saw this huge mangled dark structure that I wanted to take down, but how would I be able to do it on my own? I called for help from my spirit guides. Several of them appeared by my side. I asked them to assist in taking down this structure inside of me. They rescued the little girl to safety first before dismantling the entire mold-fungus forest. They tore it down at my request with such strength, snapping branches and crushing uneven and dangerous dark areas. Then they set it afire to clear out the debris until there was only grey ash left behind.
I waited and watched the newly visible sunlight beaming on the soft grey ashes. In the silence, a small tree began to sprout and grow before my eyes where the old mold forest had been! This tree had cherry brown bark- a beautiful cherry tree with fresh green leaves. As it slowly, steadily grew taller in the sunlight, the tears came and my heart opened more. This was my tree, bearing fruit and flowers. I resonated strongly with this tree. No longer did I have the scary dark unsafe web of fungus for inner support. The tears rolled down my face and neck, directly to the spot in my chest that had felt the pain from the beginning stages of this whole process a week before. This felt like a completion to me and a deep healing.
I opened my eyes to the sound of a zipping hummingbird directly behind my head. I turned to look at it, and it zipped, zipped, zipped in a full circle around my head, observing me at each interval before it flew off. Then a tiny bird fluttered to a small branch above my head and chirped while looking directly at me, followed by a sudden chorus of many birds in the trees next to me. It felt like the whole place was acknowledging my arrival at this new space within me. I was done, and it was time to go. With immense gratitude swelling from my heart, I thanked the spirit of the land, the Earth (and the birds) for this new foundation within that felt so beautiful and strong.
The big healing from this personal work I did with the Earth’s help is a process that is both immediate and gradual. It takes time to integrate it fully. There are days when I feel the old pattern of insecurity rise up, and I have to remind myself to be patient and kind to myself when this happens. I remember the feeling I had when I saw the cherry tree and how open my heart was that day, so full of gratitude after that incredible experience. I feel the support of the Earth as I walk my path and honor who I really am as a soul, and embody this truth. Step by step, I feel more secure and that I am not alone in my journey.
Written by April Phillips