Healing Under the Willow Trees

September 2, 2014

“If you want to meet the most powerful healing plants in the world, just open your door and step outside.” – Eliot Cowan

This morning I woke up filled with melancholy and it felt so uncomfortable. Why was it there? Was it because it’s Labor Day, a holiday, and I’m home alone? But I like spending time with myself and I had a lot to do.

Yesterday I had a visit from some favorite friends – Stacey, Mabel, and Freddie. We just laid around not doing much of anything. Like old times. We live across the river from each other now – not just around the block. We’re not far, but it’s different – a little sad – and maybe that’s where the melancholy came from. I just wasn’t sure.

Instead of turning on my computer or the tv to numb and bury the uncomfortable feeling, I hopped on my bike and went for a bike ride. You know, those feelings of melancholy, anger, shame, guilt, grief, or whatever they may be, don’t just go away if we push them aside. They literally find a place to hide out in our body, and unexpressed, inevitably lead to disease.

I’ve witnessed this happening in my own life and after years of studying Ayurveda and energy medicine, I’ve learned that the only way to get them out of the body is to face them head-on. For some people, journaling does that best.

For me, Mother Nature is my ally when I need to process emotions. And luckily, I still have a big old river to run to.

When I ride my bike (another great release) and approach the water, I almost immediately feel a change. Often tears come, I feel my breath begin to deepen and my heart relaxes from the heaviness of the stuck emotional energy.

Of course, it’s not always my heart – depending on the emotion, it could be felt anywhere. But I seem to often feel it in my heart center.

Today, as I rounded the bend on the boardwalk to head home, I came upon five Willow trees lining the path. I put on my brakes and hopped off my bike. “Oh, glorious Willow trees on the Jersey City side of the river – I found you!” They aren’t as mature as the ones on the NYC side, but big enough to envelop me with their shade.

I have loved Willow trees since I was a child.

They inspired some of my very first drawings. I didn’t pay so much attention to them during my busy years, but my heart would often skip a beat as a memory was jogged when I saw one in passing.

Today they were calling me – literally. I’ve had my head buried in a book called “Plant Spirit Medicine: A Journey into the Healing Wisdom of Plants” by Eliot Cowan.

I can’t put it down. The author talks about the healing we can receive from the spirit of the plant, without using or eating from it, simply by being in its presence.

Plants that grow where you live or lived are the ones that seem to offer the most effective healing. It was no accident that these Willows stopped me in my tracks this morning. Pay attention to plants and animals for which you feel a deep bond.

I laid on the ledge under the trees, wishing I could be directly on the Earth, but grateful to be able to rest my head under their branches. Then I got quiet. The breeze was blowing and the gentle fronds seemed to be brushing away my melancholy.

If you squint your eyes and look at the edges of the tree you can literally see the trees energy field.

To me, it looks like millions of little amoeba darting around. When the sun is out you can sometimes see them in a rainbow of colors.

Warning: You can lose track of time very easily lying under a tree. Trees are powerful, living gifts to us that we so often take for granted.

We need them more than they need us, that’s for sure.


It’s funny how writing at a desk can be so hard but get out in Nature and clear away the stuck emotions and the words just start to flow. I’ve been away from this blog, struggling to get back to my writing. But these thoughts just flowed while sitting under the Willows. I believe they helped me get the words out, along with the sadness.

Being in Nature is free and easy and doesn’t require popping a pill. And it’s not a bad idea to share with your kids the joy of laying under a tree without a cell phone or video game in hand.

Much love,

  1. Yes, yes, yes! Sometimes when I’ve had too much computer, yet am in the mddle of a project I really don’t want to leave, I’ll take a short break to go out to my lawn and stand there wih my bare feet in the grass for a few minutes. This is an instant reboot of my entire system, reminding me of what’s really important. Great article, Barbara.

  2. Wonderful post, Barbara. I think there is something about Labor Day that makes our melancholy emerge. I felt weepy and nostalgic all day long today. I’ve always detested this day since I was a child, even though it signifies the inception of my favorite season. We had a huge thunder storm tonight and I took a walk afterwards, which finally calmed my emotions down. It was like breathing water but everything was lush and green and the humidity seemed to punctuate the scent of the flowers. My hair frizzed out a mile and the mosquitoes took advantage of me, but my post-storm walk left me feeling more centered than I had been all day. XOXOXOXOXOXO

  3. I love you Barbara! And I was sad also when I packed the crew in the car to cross that river….. Next time we’ll all go sit under the willow trees.

  4. Thanks, Barbara.
    I relate!

  5. Barbara, Oh how I loved this post. After all, one of my (our) favorite places to detach from the world is on the boardwalk overlooking Lake St. Clair. It is therapeutic to sit by the water on my favorite bench under the weeping willow tree (unless, there are two young guys there hogging our spot…:) Thanks for writing, reading your post was a good way to start the work week after the Labor Day holiday which is melancholy indeed. It was so nice having you visit here, the third floor is not the same without you! xoxoxoxo

  6. Oh yes, I just love willows too. And laying in tall grass with those ‘amoeba’ flying around. Also by the water… It all brings me home again.

  7. Oh yes, I just love willows too. And laying in tall grass with those ‘amoeba’ flying around. Also by the water… It all brings me home again.

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