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  • Writer's pictureJemma Louise Hunt

Learning Self-Acceptance and Body Positivity from TREES | A Mindful Invite

A wild woman takes us to the brooding wilds of South Wales, UK, in her tales and invites us to embrace Nature's Mindfulness.

a felled oak tree branch in the woods

I often find that felled trees and branches have much to teach us, and none more so than the oak tree I was drawn to, during a winter’s morning walk along the local cycle track. The trees along that route are often subjected to the enthusiastic hands of the tree surgeons during the colder months and this particular tree had lost one of her branches to one such pruning session. Her rings of life were exposed to the wintery elements - open and vulnerable – drawing me nearer and capturing my imagination; what stories or intuitive wisdom could this tree show me? What of the weather it had endured?

I thought about the accumulated scars of our own life experiences and how every memory leaves an imprint within the growing wrinkles that grace our skin—the telltale sign of agedness and wisdom. We are taught to hate the fractured remnants that line our bodies. To smooth out the creases with filters and injected poisons, stripping ourselves of all authentic maturity.

Yet as I ran my fingers gently over the coarse rings of the tree, my heart swelled with loving compassion for the felled branch and the exposed vulnerabilities it shared with me. Is it such a grievous existence to be littered with the presence of moss and ivy, and what might it represent in a maturing body? The padded flesh that settles around our tummies, searing aches that percolate our bones and muscles to the extra hair that traces our skin.

I think of the lines on my own body, some of which I carried from an early age. The battles of misunderstood teenage illness and the self-hate that ensued. Stretch marks and furrowed lines created deep grooves in my thinning skin, and I relive the lighter memories too. The countless moments I loved and laughed wholeheartedly, forming the crows' feet that trail from my increasingly hooded eyes.

close-up of a tree trunk with its leaves forming a canopy in the backdrop of blue skies

Learning to love ourselves unconditionally isn't always an easy practice. We live in a world where aesthetics is everything. From the narrative of the press to judgmental comments from individuals on social media, even conversations with friends and family - many of whom are still conditioned to believe that looks and eternal youth are life's main aims - will make you question whether it's wrong to embrace the parts of yourself that are so venomously perceived as flawed by the wider society.

But these are the times when we reach into our spiritual, heart-led practice within nature. To connect with the wild energies, and look to the lessons of the natural world.

a forested path surrounded by trees


I invite you to seek out a tree during your next walk.

Don't overthink it, simply set the intention that you would like to commune with a tree for the significance of this practice, and a tree should call to you. If this isn't accessible for you at this time you can recall the memory of a tree from a past walk or search for one in the safety of your meditative realm.

When you have found your chosen tree,

ask permission to approach her and wait patiently until you feel invited into her energetical fold. Placing your hands on the tree’s trunk (or the growth rings if they are visible), explore her authentic story. Feel the grooves that caress your fingertips, the knots and blemishes that cover the bark’s surface that serve as an indication of any stress that your tree has endured. Count the rings of her life or the adventitious plant life growing upon her person. Perhaps you can go deeper into your connection by leaning into the energies that pass between you - how does your tree make you feel on an emotional and spiritual level?

Now pay attention to your thoughts;

does your inner narrative reflect the brutal conversations you have about yourself or others? Do you judge the tree for her aged appearance? Do you compare her to the neighbouring trees, finding her less worthy of your time and attention due to the appearance of her shape or complexion?

a felled oak tree branch in the woods

When we strip back societal pressures and conditionings to the bare bones, we begin to see just how ridiculous they really are. Constant comparison, congratulating youthful looks, or recreating an unattainable body shape is as toxic as celebrating burnout culture; all of which are unachievable in the long term, and eventually our bodies always lose.

I was asked recently what is the first thing I notice about others, and I realised that my genuine answer is their energy. Sometimes it's a temperature, other times it's a colour or a word, and other times it's simply how they make me feel. But it is never a judgment on their age, features, or body shape. I watch the world around me judging people's appearance every single day, and I cringe because admittedly at times, I used to be like that too.

But spiritual practice and Nature Mindfulness have opened my heart and mind to a completely different view of the world. I'm learning to love myself (and others) outside of the realms of aesthetics. Becoming at peace spiritually has opened up a connection to soul energy and an ability to see the beauty in most things and people. What a compassionate world we could be if only we learned to communicate through the pure, wild essence contained within each other.

With love

From my heart to yours,

Jemma x

a lady in a pink raincoat outdoors


Jemma Louise Hunt is a poetic writer from South Wales, UK. She guides others in the art of Nature Connection, using the power of descriptive storytelling, poetry, and mindful invitations. Connect with her on Instagram @tales_fromawildwoman and share your own experiences using the exercises in this column. © Original Photos by the Author.  

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