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Increase your resilience during challenging times

The Tree: Increase your resilience

This is an exercise to increase resiliency. Doing this exercise when you are not under stress will help you be able to relax in times of stress.

Tree Exercise

Read Psalm 1 (very important!). Now close your eyes (or, if that makes you uncomfortable, just fix your eyes in one place). Imagine you are a tree.

· What kind of tree would you be? See yourself as that kind of tree.

· In your imagination, look around. Is your tree by itself?

· What’s the landscape around you?

Now look at the trunk of the tree:

· Notice it going down into the earth and up into the branches. Follow the branches way out into the leaves. (If it’s a fruit tree: see the fruit hanging from the branches.)

Now follow the trunk down to the roots.

· Look at the roots—is it a long single root or many roots going out? Notice how the roots are anchored into the ground.

· Now watch how the root system is bringing water and nutrients to the roots and how those nutrients travel up the tree to the branches.

Notice the weather:

· Imagine the sun shining on the leaves, making oxygen. Imagine the tree just being there with just the right temperature and light.

· Now the tree needs a bit of water. Imagine a gentle rain slowly coming down over the leaves and going towards the roots. See the water going down, down into the roots. See the moisture being taken up into the tree.

· Now stop the rain and imagine the sun coming out again to dry the leaves.

Now imagine the tree with some live creatures—perhaps birds, or squirrels or insects going up and down. Watch all the activity.

Now there’s a storm.

· Black clouds are beginning to form in the distance. The storm won’t harm or destroy the tree but the storm will come.

· The wind is picking up and the clouds are coming. The branches are shaking. The trunk is moving back and forth. Some of the leaves are falling and some of the fruit is falling.

· Now focus on how the roots are holding firm and allowing the tree to move back and forth in the wind. Let the storm go on a bit. Feel the tree moving back and for the with its roots firmly planted in the ground.

· Now the storm is slowing gradually until everything is still again.

· How the tree feeling after the storm?

· Now the sun is returning. The insects and birds are coming back out again. Things are drying. Imagine the tree coming back to normal.

When the tree is still again, the sun is shining, the insects and the birds are back out again, gradually take some deep breaths and open your eyes.(1)

For more information on healing woulds and building resilience, go to Trauma Healing Institutes at

1. Hill, Harriet, et al. Healing the Wounds of Trauma: How the Church Can Help. 2014.

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