The Magic Forest - tending to your inner landscape


Squirrel pyrography and ink illustration on wood
In my magic forest there are definitely squirrels! I know many people view them as pest, indeed they can do a lot of damage. I have one visit here intermittently and quite often bird feeders have to be replaced afterwards. I do enjoy seeing how lithe it is, the way it moves, and how easily it can scamper up the trees.

The magic forest is what I call my inner landscape; the place of feelings, emotions and imagination. I've written before about how the COVID pandemic changed many things for me, and one of those was the realisation I need my own sanctuary and I need to tend to my own inner world.

We're blinded by the external world so much of the time we forget to look after ourselves and our feelings. Negative feelings are seen as something grubby, uncomfortable, to be avoided and ignored by sweeping them under the carpet. It's only when that bulge explodes and some kind of mental health issue occurs does our inner world get shoved to the forefront.

Mindfulness and meditation are often recommended for many mental health issues and they can be useful tools. However in the Western world we struggle with some meditation techniques that involve trying to clear the mind. In some individuals it can result in a battleground with their own thoughts, and a feeling of failure that they cannot reach this Zen state they're supposed to.

Meditation is something that requires practice, I saw a really good description in a book that said every time thoughts intrude, think of it like going to the gym, you're becoming stronger each time you don't engage with them. It also doesn't require spending several hours in the lotus position trying to find eternal enlightenment. Sometimes during the day I remind myself to take three breaths, just to still myself for a moment and be present.

I enjoy guided meditation or visualisation as a way to reduce stress and anxiety. As time has gone on I prefer to do my own journeys just by listening to music. I created my own imaginary place that I can go to exploring, adventuring, and most importantly I'm safe and secure there.

As I step through the stone gate I feel leaves, moss and ferns underfoot. I can smell the earth and the trees. A gentle wind rustles the leaves and I can hear the crack of branches. It's a sacred place, it's a sanctuary. 
We all need to create our own sanctuary in this world.

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