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How to Bend and Not Break: Visualising Your Life

In the town where I grew up, a giant fig tree perched on a hill overlooking the river below. It was massive; its gnarled roots seemed to be almost woven across the soil, and entering the dense shade it cast felt like walking into velvet. It must have stood there for eons, watching the water and the years flow by. (That’s it in the photo.)

I read a saying today that reminded me of that tree:

“Praise and blame,
gain and loss,
pleasure and sorrow
come and go like the wind.

To be happy,
Rest like a great tree
In the midst of them all.”*

How incredible to think about resting in all of that. Not resisting the turbulence. Not trying to control the weather. Just resting back into whatever happens to be. (And even growing in it.)

Do you think that’s possible?

To feel those emotions, yet not become them.

To sink your roots down right down into your experiences, maybe even the painful ones, and draw up what you can from them.

To bend when you need to (so as not to break).

Maybe even to lose your leaves if that’s what it takes to get you through the colder times.

And then to shoot new buds when your seasons renew…

So if you went out on a limb and really pictured yourself as a tree, what kind of tree would you be today?

Just take a moment to visualize and see what comes.

And see if you can notice what stage of growth you’re in right now.
Weathered and wild?
Strong and fruitful?
Hollow where the wind blows through you?
Or maybe a fragile seedling, just branching out anew?

(And what might you learn from all of that about what could sustain you? Nurture you? Help you to thrive?)

Perhaps within you there lies a seed of wisdom, just waiting to be found…


*This saying was quoted by Mark Nepo in “The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have“, p.190.
Photo: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.
How to Bend and Not Break: Visualising Your Life

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

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APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2019). How to Bend and Not Break: Visualising Your Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Mar 2019
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