When I was little, there was a tree in the backyard of my family’s home. It had three knots in the perfect eyes and nose configuration and a groove in just the right place for a mouth. It was Mr. Tree. Often, when I was feeling sad or hurt I would go outside and sit beneath Mr. Tree or climb up into one of his branches and somehow feel soothed.
Nature imagery (or actual nature!) is often a good place to start with clients for whom compassion from humans can feel too threatening. On the other hand, some people may more easily access soothing feelings using human, animal, or spiritual imagery. It is probably best to start with whatever works and help the client to build their compassion repertoires from there.
Here is a poem I wrote about a compassionate tree that can hold the unwanted parts of a person’s experience. You can work with clients to write about or draw their own soothing image holding their own experience.