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  • Writer's pictureChrissie Mowbray

The Whispering Tree

The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit - Nelson Henderson

In December 2023 we wrote about the magic of tees.

Today we would like to share our admiration for one in particular.

Pictured with this article is a tree that is special to us.

She resides at a meeting point along the River went between Ackworth and Wentbridge in West Yorkshire, UK, very near to where we both live.

Since our children were very small they have referred to her as 'the Whispering Tree' a name chosen entirely by them way back during a time of climbing and jumping into the water that feels very distant from present day.

We do not remember her naming day, we just know that that is her name.

She sits on the river bank among hawthorn bushes, wild oak trees and saplings and a host of vibrantly coloured wildflowers and plants. All of these provide their own unique brand of medicine through the fruit that they bear for us and wild animals and birds alike to enjoy, and their beauty, sounds and scents.

The Whispering Tree is a Willow. Willow trees are well known for their artfully draped branches and pretty leaves that shiver and flutter in the breeze. According to 'Willows, also called sallows and osiers, form the genus Salix, are around 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs, found primarily on moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.'

What is so special about this particular tree?

The Whispering Tree stands firmly on a flat piece of earth onto which you have to descend off the beaten track. Half of her is hidden in a private cave of shrubs and neighbouring trees that protect from view and create a perfect place to meet and rest.

Right next to the river, she is possessed of low and easily accessible branches which enable even the youngest or least confident to get to know her. In fact one of her limbs rests almost on the floor so that you can sit on it like a bench.

Higher up, her bows are climbable too, each one within easy reach of another so that, if you wanted to you could ascend all the way up and enjoy a much loftier perspective - a bigger picture if you like.

Long ago her most weighty bow became so mighty that it broke halfway towards it's middle at the junction between it and the main trunk causing major damage. Though this might have seemed like a catastrophe at the time, that bow is still thriving. It now stretches all the way across the river forging a path for anyone courageous and skilled enough to balance, to reach the other side. Despite the trauma, this bow bears smaller branches that arch gracefully downwards into the flowing water and demonstrates sure signs of rebirth through its soft, pale green shoots. A simple home fashioned rope swing is tied to the center of it, presumably an experiment performed by passing adventuring children but left there for anyone who is brave enough to use it.

In her center, the Whispering Tree is partly hollowed out. Here there is clear evidence of huge trauma. Part of her trunk is burned to charcoal. Maybe she was stuck by lightening. Perhaps she is the victim of cruelty for entertainment.

She continues to grow and thrive anyway.

She does not ask for compensation of revenge.

She does not blame of judge.

She opens her branches to welcome all who pass, whoever they are.

She remains rooted to the earth and always reaches skyward in all weathers.

She chooses to bend and accommodate rather than break during times of adversity.

She heals herself and she wears those scars as a beautiful story of strength, grace and resilience.

She is a true inspiration to all who have been lucky enough to meet beneath her shade.

Try this

Speak the following meditation into your phone.

Find a quiet place where you can hear it back.

Perhaps with earphones.

Maybe under your favourite tree...


Take your awareness to your breathing once again

The tidal in and out of your breath

Allow it to slow and deepen

Now be aware of your life force

Your body hums with vitality

Your breath

The beating of your heart

The blood taking its course through your veins

Supplying every cell with the energy that it needs

For you to be alive

Feel that energy

Picture it in your body

See it, bright and vibrant

Now see it extending beyond your body

Out into what you call your personal space

That safe, intimate space around you

Your place in the universe


Now picture, in front of you a beautiful tree

Out in the beautiful natural world

See in clearly rooted in the earth

Reaching to the sky

Feel its silent knowing

Its immense sense of presence

Now unpack a blanket and cushion and sit in its shade


From here you can close your eyes and lean back onto the sturdy trunk and let it take your weight

Take your awareness now to the roots of this tree

Their connection to the earth

Follow them deep down into the soil

This is where the tree draws up all its nutrients

How do these roots appear to you?

Are they strong?

Do they reach deeply into the ground?

How is it that they can draw up exactly what is needed

Do what you need to do to strengthen these roots


Now take your awareness to the trunk and branches of this beautiful tree

What communication systems lie within?

Are there clear channels for transport there?

Or do you see some blockages?

Put your energy into removing these blockages however it needs to be done


When the elements are strong do the branches bend or break?

Give the tree what it needs to allow it to adapt to the wind

Give it flexibility


Now look at the leaves of the tree

This is the very breathe of life itself

Are they green and lush and wide?

Do they need cleaner air?

Cleanse them now with a mountain breeze

Do they need water?

Give it to them

Is there blossom on your tree?

What colour is it?

Breathe in its beauty

Are there animals or insects?

What is their purpose?

Look at your tree as a whole being of life now

What can you do to help it to flourish?

Do you need to remove some old wood or spotted leaves?

Can you give it water of nutrients?

Do this now in whatever way feels right to you

Watch it grow

Watch as the leaves on your tree reach up to the heavens connecting it with the cosmos

Now imagine a silver thread from the top of your head connecting you forever to the source of all of our being

And now begin to slowly allow those images to fade




Open your eyes

This meditation and many more can be found in our book amongst over 60 practical tools and techniques for improving mental wellbeing and gaining personal resilience: How to Rise: A Complete Resilience Manual: Mowbray, Chrissie, Forshaw, Dr Karen, Khan, Dr Dr Amir: 9781529370119: Books

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