School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: July 2012 Newsletter
Re-Forestation Reflections

By Jayne Bullen

On my return from the first module of the apprenticeship I was called so strongly to reconnect to mother that I have spent some weeks, literally, lying on her and being with her in the most horizontal way I have ever known. Re-finding my roots and re-moulding the relationship I have to her depth and wisdom on a body level. Feeling deeply connected to earth and the land here at home and the wisdom buried in my African soils, as well as my own story with them. Giving thanks.

Starting my company which is, coincidentally and from a long time before, called touchingground. I hadn't realized when I took this time off to start it up, that it meant that instead of getting busy 'doing' (business plans, banks all the stuff that is needed to 'get done', it would really mean my actual physical body being forced by exhaustion and illness to spend weeks on the ground, touching it). 

So, it was perfect timing to head off into the hills with my son, a dear old friend and a few spades over Mother's Day weekend in South Africa and join a group of committed earth lovers in planting two thousand trees.

Greenpop (a local NGO that plants trees, connects people and supports local musicians) pulls off a few similar festivals a year and what they have created is something truly extraordinary. Instead of just heading off to an outdoor party, we participated in a weekend of dreaming, ritual and reconnection. There were drums, there was forest yoga and meditation, good real food, an ongoing mix of awe-inspiring local music talent and many special souls. And to add to it, at some point of the fun, we got down and VERY dirty and re-planted an entire section of a forest that had been taken down over a century ago to be used for potato farming and that was now lying dormant full of alien plants. 

Tree gurus and huggers all around coupled with some amazing drum-magicians, ritualistically marched through the magnificent Platbos forest - the largest indigenous forest in the Southern Hemisphere apparently - to a breeding station where our 2000 trees had been waiting for us to arrive and dig them in. Another Long walk to the planting site up the hill allowed us to soak in the beauty of the forest parts un-pillaged by man and steeped in old soul trees and tangly nooks and crannies.  By this time I was carrying all six of our first batch of trees as well as the spades while my four year old was asking the inevitable 'are we there yet'. My unsuspecting friend Hevette who I had egged to come along as her birthday gift was gravitating between fits of giggles and exhaustive strikes with my son, sitting on branch benches along the way looking exhausted before the actual work begun.

Finally, we got going and digging and mulching away through the soft soil. Somewhere between a blink, a spider nest invasion, a small collapse, Leewin having a few tantrums eased by the great snacks, and my decision to abscond at one point to lie in the sun and work on my vitamin D deficiency rather than dig, the huge effort was done and we retreated to the fire and music to replenish. It felt good to have really got down and gritty along with enough other people there for the same reason - to do something tangible and collective to the planet. When I spoke to a grandmother who had planted over 14 constellations of trees that day I criticized our team's seemingly poor effort of only getting through two. 

That night Leewin fell asleep by the fire on my sheep skin and we danced the stiffness into the forest's soft floors. It felt safe being there alone with him and was the first time I have done it in a way where I have been able to let go and have him with me. I didn't have to leave him behind with mum or someone I had paid and go somewhere without him. 

In my dreams I was reminded of one of my favorites from the Four Agreements about doing the best you can and knowing that it is always different at different times. Mother asks of little or nothing from us other than our presence and ability to be who we are in our truth. I felt more conscious of what I could give and the different ways of giving back to her in new areas of my life, having come so deeply close to her wisdom and into a very real hands on action-connection with her. I remembered two days before this being in bed feeling like I was too ill to ever get up and wanting to sell my tickets. I glanced over at my exhausted sleeping four year old in the bed next to me who had now planted his first few trees in this old wise forest, and knew we had done more than enough. More than some ever do. Far less than some others have done and will do. A tiny start. 

I thought of constellation I had been part of planting that represented my Movement Medicine apprenticeship circle to me. Different species and journeys, yet connected by the actual nuts and bolts of our bodily experience - roots, trunks, branches. Committed to making this planet work better again and to better serving it and giving back. Planted close enough together to be of mutualisitc support, shelter and protection. Part of a much bigger collective of circles and other ecosystems all around. Adding to the diversity, mix and color of our extraordinary universe. I jotted down ideas of other ways to support this fabulous group of people called Greenpop, doing so much good for our earth in some bigsmall steps and making it their problem and job, whilst the rest of the world is still cutting down forests and churning through more elaborate packaging designs. 

I got home and took my own mother a beautiful bunch of fresh organic herbs for mothers day and held her in my arms in thanks. My son did a painting for me of the forest. It all made sense. I told Hevette its the sort of world I want him to live in into the future. She agreed, but felt that she might rather just give money the next time around and not be the one actually doing the planting. 

I thought of the Luke tree I had planted as a symbol of a new love and partnership - hoping to be able to visit it again in the future and sit under its shade one day with him and my son - all four of us older, strong, healthy. I vowed to go back next festival planting-ready and prepared to go for gold. If I can. Or at least to do my best I can then, whatever it is. 

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.