ANIMAL METAPHORS - Harvard/MGH Trauma Programs: COVID-19 Crisis Toolkit for Self-Care - Harvard/MGH Trauma ...

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ANIMAL METAPHORS - Harvard/MGH Trauma Programs: COVID-19 Crisis Toolkit for Self-Care - Harvard/MGH Trauma ...
Harvard/MGH Trauma Programs:
            COVID-19 Crisis Toolkit for Self-Care

Richard F. Mollica, MD, MAR
Emily Hermann, Trevor LaClair, & Fanny Y. Cai
Design by: Christopher Schmitt

Harvard Medical School / Massachusetts General Hospital © 2021
ANIMAL METAPHORS - Harvard/MGH Trauma Programs: COVID-19 Crisis Toolkit for Self-Care - Harvard/MGH Trauma ...

           - GREY WOLF                      10
           - BALD EAGLE                     11
           - ORB-WEAVER SPIDER              12
           - RAVEN                          13
           - ELEPHANT                       14
           - CHAMELEON                      15
           - MOLE                           16
           - FROG                           17
           - BEAVER                         18
           - CHIMPANZEE                     19
           - SNOWY WHITE OWL                20

           - URBAN ANIMALS                  21

           - INTRODUCTION                   24
           - REFLECTIVE WRITING             25
             REFLECTIVE WRITING             27
           - NATURE JOURNALING              28
           - FOREST BATHING: A SUMMARY      30
             REFLECTION                     31
           - JOY OF WRITING HAIKU POETRY    32
           - A MEDITATION EXERCISE          33

           BIO-SKETCHES OF AUTHORS          36
           APPRECIATION                     38

ANIMAL METAPHORS - Harvard/MGH Trauma Programs: COVID-19 Crisis Toolkit for Self-Care - Harvard/MGH Trauma ...

Our Harvard/MGH Team offers this document­as a journey into self-care for
healthcare professionals and healthcare workers dealing with the COVID-19
pandemic. It builds upon the self-care protocol, toolkit and pocket card already
fully developed and presented on this website ( Our
primary goal is to “care for those who care for others”. Tens of thousands of health
care workers have been in­fected; many have died doing their heroic healing
work with COVID-19 patients (1); Many have been persons of color. We are also in
this document addressing the young persons who have spent tremendous time,
energy and passion helping nursing home patients, the homeless, veterans and
the many other vulnerable groups suffering from this pandemic. In our recent
Manifesto II: Healing the Healer, “We sing of our healers and their clients who are
the treasure of our world” (2).

Another goal is to help heal the rup-       of mind, body and spirit, and the
ture between human beings and our           environment (3).
natural world. The current Coronavirus
pandemic has arisen out of a terrible       We welcome you on this journey of
breakdown with our natural world. Out       self-care using the self-healing power
of the wildlife markets, a terrible virus   of nature. This instrument focuses on
has leapt out of bats and pangolins,        animals as a metaphor for self-care
to become a major scourge of human          and self-healing. We welcome you, your
suffering. The dangerous destruction of     family and loved ones the opportunity
our natural world must be addressed         to join us in this joyous experience of
by healthcare practitioners. This goal      connecting with each other, the natural
is aligned with the new science of One      world and being united with those
Health. One Health asserts that wellness    marvelous creatures and plants that
can only occur through the integration      share with us this beautiful planet earth.


A mosaic of animal metaphors (4) is used to offer a self-care approach to self-
healing. Cognitive scientists, such as Lakoff and Johnson, believe that conscious
thought is the tip of an enormous iceberg of unconscious thought that is
manifested in everyday life through conceptual metaphors (5). As Lakoff and
Johnson state, metaphors are directly delivered from the neural structures of the

“Metaphors provide subjective experiences with extremely rich inferential structure,
imagery and qualitative ‘feel’ when the networks for subjective experience and the
sensorimotor networks are neurally connected to them are coactivated.” (p. 59)
ANIMAL METAPHORS - Harvard/MGH Trauma Programs: COVID-19 Crisis Toolkit for Self-Care - Harvard/MGH Trauma ...

The extensive use of metaphors is the       Our Harvard/MGH team composed
main manner in which we commun-             of a medical doctor/psychiatristt, a
icate with each other and understand        naturalist, and numerous contribut-
the world in everyday life. A metaphor      ing students, artists, birders, and
is defined by Oxford dictionary as:         neuroscientists have created these
                                            metaphors and presented the nature-
A word or phrase used to describe           based practices offered. The focus is
somebody/something else, in a way           always on making the metaphors and
that is different from its normal use,      practices not only accessible to hospital
in order to show that the two things        specialists and mainstream healthcare
have the same qualities and to make         workers, but also to young persons
the description more powerful.              from all ethnic backgrounds working in
                                            urban and rural communities.

The Wolf Metaphor illustrates our method. Let us break this metaphor down into
its components using the Lakoff and Johnson Model (p. 61-62). See below:

Wolf > Apex predator in the world
Wolf Pack > Family
Natural Instincts > Provide all pack members safety, protection, food, shelter,
care for the youth, elderly, sick and disabled
Outcomes in the Wild > Survival, health, wellness, flourishing
Moral > Taking care of the family is a top priority

                                         As can be seen, the wolf is a wonderful
                                         metaphor for the ideal family. Similarly,
                                         each of the other 10 metaphors have been
                                         specially chosen to represent each of our
                                         major self-care principles. The metaphors
                                         are biologically described with a brief
                                         embedded video that illustrates every
                                         animal in their wild state.
ANIMAL METAPHORS - Harvard/MGH Trauma Programs: COVID-19 Crisis Toolkit for Self-Care - Harvard/MGH Trauma ...

The following cultural and scientific principles here informed this work:

a. Symbolic Power of Nature and Animals
Since the beginning of recorded history, nature
including animal symbols have been used to
represent and record humanity’s relationship to
the natural world. The cave paintings of France
and Spain are over 30,000 years old and may
        be an expression of early man’s belief
            in the magical and spiritual power
              of animals. Recently in Asia, the
               oldest sculpture was found. It was
               an approximately 14,000 year old
               sculpture of a little bird.

              A wonderful painting of animals from the Italian Renaissance is the
            strange and mysterious depiction of animals and nature in Piero Di
          Cosimo’s painting “The Incendio Nella Foresta” (The Forest Fire).

This painting (1505) is one of the renaissance’s earliest
landscapes. In the painting can be seen real as well as
fantastic animals. It was inspired by Book 5 of Lucretius’
On the Nature of Things.

The rhythmic, graphic, and rich beauty of Rousseau’s
nature paintings displayed in his painting of the
mandrill in the jungle, is emblematic of his love of
natural beauty. The mandrill’s magnificent and
beautiful face is striking.
ANIMAL METAPHORS - Harvard/MGH Trauma Programs: COVID-19 Crisis Toolkit for Self-Care - Harvard/MGH Trauma ...

                                                                                               © Bill Traylor

             The modern and contemporary
             artists such as Bill Traylor who lived
             through slavery into the 1960s (6)
             and Elli Crocker (7) capture the
             humility as well as the heroic power
             of wild animals, respectively.

             Of course, these small number
             of artistic illustrations only give a
             brief glimpse into the thousands
             of years of humanity’s relationship
             with animals and the natural world.
             Everyone can reflect on the artistic
             crafts; jewelry, textile and clothing
             of nature and animals images and
             scenes that fill our everyday lives           they overlap with fables from the
             and bring us joy.                             Buddhist Jataka (9) and the ancient
                                                           Hindu Panchatantra (10) stories. Aesop
                                                           was believed to have been a liberated
                                                                          slave and a storyteller
                                                                          living in ancient Greece
                                                                          between 620 and 564
                                                                          BC. Everyone knows
                                                                          the great fable of The
                                                                          Tortoise and the Hare.
                                                                          How often do we say
                                                                          “slow but steady wins
                                                                          the race” and “never
                                                                          give up!” Aesop’s Fables
                                                                          have entered modern
                                                                          life in our beloved stories
                                                                          such as Charlotte’s Web
                                                                          (by E.B. White), Winnie-
© Elli Crocker                                             the-Pooh (A.A. Milne), and Watership
             b. Fables                                     Down (R. Adams). The child and the
                                                           child in every adult can be moved by
             No discussion of animal metaphors             the deep moral lessons of these fables.
             can be complete without a mention of
             fables. A fable is a complex metaphor         c. Healing Power of Nature
             that is a short story, usually with talking   In recent years, an extraordinary number
             animals as the main characters, that          of scientific studies have revealed the
             conveys a moral message. Plants,              healing power of nature (11 - 12). These
             rivers, mountains can also deliver the        studies have focused on the impact of
             story-line. Certainly, Aesop’s Fables (8)     being in the natural world on stress-
             are best known in America, although           reduction and the relief of physical
ANIMAL METAPHORS - Harvard/MGH Trauma Programs: COVID-19 Crisis Toolkit for Self-Care - Harvard/MGH Trauma ...

and mental suffering, wellness, and the         Birds, for example, have been found
promotion of spiritual rejuvenation and         to be “emphatic” and to express a
flourishing (13). The therapeutic value         wide range of emotions (21). This
of animals as home-companions has               video on elephants by the Wildlife
been studied extensively (14). As well          Conservation Society (WCS) reveals
as the therapeutic value of spending            the deep empathy expressed by these
time with wildlife (15). Natural healing        magnificent animals.
environments that include plants,
gardens, water features and nature              Miraculously we are biologically hard-
scenes are increasingly being built             wired to share our love, affection
into hospitals and clinics (16). The            and deep appreciation for all living
importance of green spaces including            creatures in a reciprocal relationship.
parks and trees for urban communities           Mirror neuron research also gives
of color is becoming a priority of local        us the opportunity to discover the
environmental planning (17). It is              deep ancestral knowledge in our
now considered essential that all city          minds (brains) that allows us to show
dwellers, especially children, have easy        empathy, respect and care. Decades
access to the natural world (18).               ago, Carl Jung, the great Swiss
                                                psychoanalyst described this inherited,
d. Empathy                                      ancestral knowledge as the “collective
The eco-feminists have strongly                 unconsciousness”.
promoted the role of empathy in
valuing and understanding the natural           The eco-feminists have furthermore
world, including all of its living creatures,   used the direct experiences of
i.e. the plants and animals (19). All           empathy with animals to establish
human beings are biologically wired             the basic principle that ­­all animals are
to be empathic with all other human             sentient creatures. Sentient is defined
beings and the natural world. Italian           by Merriam-Webster as responsive
neuroscientists led by G. Rizzolatti            to or conscious of sense impressions
discovered in the frontal and premotor          sentient beings, aware, and finely
cortex unique neurons called mirror             sensitive in perception or feeling. They
neurons, in monkeys that allowed them           have thrown out thousands of years
to make sense of an action in another           of intense philosophical arguing in
monkey firing in the same part of the           Western philosophy about this issue,
brain without having experienced that           arriving at their basic position from the
action. The mirror neurons “mirror” the         direct empathic connection with nature
behavior and emotional experience of            and the animal world (22). Recently,
the other without having been through           the British government arrived at the
the experience itself. It is believed that      revolutionary and historic conclusion
these tens of thousands of neurons              that all animals are sentient creatures
provide the basis of empathy since the          and need to have their rights protected
organism already has pre-coded in its           by law and the power of the state (23).
mind at birth the experience of others          With the passage of this law, and the
(20).                                           U.K. action plan for animal welfare, the
                                                world is on the verge of a radical shift in
Mirror neurons have been found in               its relationship to animals.
human beings and other primates.
ANIMAL METAPHORS - Harvard/MGH Trauma Programs: COVID-19 Crisis Toolkit for Self-Care - Harvard/MGH Trauma ...

Welcome                                           Health” and Systemic Approaches to Health
Our Harvard/MGH team welcomes you                 and Well-being.” Preventive Veterinary
                                                  Medicine. 2011;101:148-156.
to read, reflect, use and enjoy these
metaphors and self-care practices.                4. Hart, K.B., Long J.H. “Animal Metaphors
It is impossible in a brief document              and Metaphorizing Animals: An Integrated
to present the thousands of years of              Literary, Cognitive, and Evolutionary Analysis
human symbolic relationships with                 of Making and Partaking of Stories.” Evolution
nature, including plants and animals.             Education & Outreach. 2011; 4: 52-63.
Similarly it is impossible to present a
                                                  5. Lakoff G., Johnson M. Philosophy in the
comprehensive biological and natural              Flesh:The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge
history review. The special and unique            to Western Thought. New York, NY: Basic
relationships of indigenous peoples               Books, 1999.
to the natural world is noted and
also deeply appreciated (24-25). We               6. Maresca F., Ricco R. Bill Traylor: His Art, His
                                                  Life. 1st ed. New York: Knopf : Distributed by
welcome, for example, our indigenous
                                                  Random House, 1991.
colleagues in Australia, Haiti and
America to contribute their self-care             7. Rooney E.A. The Contemporary Art of
insights based upon their own cultural            Nature: Mammals. Atglen, PA. Schiffer
and spiritual beliefs. Similarly, the             Publishing, Ltd, 2014.
recent contributions of Pope Francis,
                                                  8. Aesop’s Fables Tr, VS Vernonn Jones
in his Encyclical Letter on our care for
                                                  Collector’s Library CRW Publishing limited,
our common home ‘LAUDATO SI’, calls               London England. 2006.
for all of us to become ecological
citizens by protecting the earth and all          9. N. Inayat. Twenty Jataka Tales. Pilgrims
of its living creatures. This is in line with     Publishing, New Delhi, India, 2003.
the revolutionary teachings of Saint
                                                  10. 101 Panchatantra Stories. Om Books
Francis of Assisi in the 13th century who
                                                  International, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2012.
spoke directly to animals and wanted
all creatures on earth to be treated as           11. G.N. Bratman, C.B. Anderson, M.G. Berman,
equals. In spite of these limitations, the        B. Cochran, S. de Vries, J. Flanders, C. Folke, H.
Harvard/MGH team believes strongly                Frumkin, J.J. Gross, T. Hartig, P. H. Kahn Jr., M.
in the scientific basis of the healing            Kuo, J. J. Lawler, P.S. Levin, T. Lindahl, A. Meyer
                                                  - Lindenberg, R. Mitchell, Z. Ouyang, J. Roe,
power of nature and our biologically
                                                  L. Scarlett, J.R. Smith, M. van den Bosch, B.W.
wired capacity to live in harmony with            Wheeler, M. P. White, H. Zheng, G. C. Daily,
all living creatures and our natural              Nature and mental health: An ecosystem
world.                                            service perspective. Sciences Advances 5,
                                                  eaax0903 (2019).
1. Mollica R.F., Charles L.L. “Honor and Grief:   12. Grinde B., Patil G.G. “Biophilia: Does Visual
The American Family is Essential to our           Contact with Nature Impact on Health
Recovery from Covid-19”. Southern California      and Well-being?” International Journal of
Psychiatrist. 2021. 69 (10); 8-9.                 Environmental Research and Public Health.
                                                  2009; 6(9): 2332-2343.
2. Mollica R.F., Agosin M. A Manifesto: Healing
a Violent World. Kent, England: Solis Press;      13. Berto, R. “The Role of Nature in Coping with
2018.                                             Psycho-physiological Stress: A Literature
                                                  Review on Restorativeness.” Behavioral
3. Zinsstag J., Schelling E., Waltner-Toews, D,   Sciences. 2014;4:394-409.
and Tanner, M. “From “one Medicine” to “one
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14. Brooks et al. The power       inequities in mental well-        Trends in Neurosciences.
of support from companion         being. Am. J. Prev. Med. 49,      2013; 36(8): 489-96.
animals for people living with    80-84 (2015).
mental health problems:                                             22. Gruen L. Entangled
a systematic review and           18. Maller C., Townsend M.,       Empathy : An Alternative
narrative synthesis of the        Pryor A., Brown P., St Leger      Ethic for Our Relationships
evidence, BMC Psychiatry,         L. “Healthy Nature Healthy        with Animals. Brooklyn, NY:
2018 Feb 5;18(1):31.              People: ‘contact with Nature’     Lantern Books; 2015.
                                  as an Upstream Health
15. Wiens V, Kyngas H, Polkki     Promotion Intervention            23. Harvey F. Animals to
T, The meaning of seasonal        for Populations.” Health          be recognized as sentient
changes, nature and               Promotion International.          beings in U.K. law. The
animals for adolescent girls’     2005; 2(1): 45-54.                Guardian. May 12, 2021.
wellbeing in northern Finland:
A qualitative descriptive         19. Anderson E. “Animal           24. Kutz S., Tomaselli M.
study, International Journal      Rights and the Value of           “”Two-eyed Seeing” Supports
of Qualitative Studies on         Non-Human Life.” In Animal        Wildlife Health.” Science
Health and Well-being, 2016;      Rights: Current Debates and       (2019); 364: 135-137.
11(1).                            New Directions. Sunstein CR,
                                  Nussbaum MC (Eds) Oxford:         25. McGinnis A., Kincaid
16. Huisman E.R.C.M, Morales      Oxford University Press. 2005;    A.T., Barrett M.J., Ham C.
E., Van Hoof J., and Kort         Chapter 13.                       “Strengthening Animal-
H.S.M. “Healing Environment:                                        Human Relationships as
A Review of the Impact of         20. Corradini A., Antonietti      a Doorway to Indigenous
Physical Environmental            A. “Mirror Neurons and Their      Holistic Wellness.”
Factors on Users.” Building       Function in Cognitively           Ecopsychology; (2019): 162-
and Environment. 2012; 58:        Understood Empathy.”              173.
70-80.                            Consciousness and
                                  Cognition. 2013; 22: 1152-1161.
17. Mitchell R.J., Richardson
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Neighborhood environments         J.B. “Toward a Cross-species
and socioeconomic                 Understanding of Empathy.”
ANIMAL METAPHORS - Harvard/MGH Trauma Programs: COVID-19 Crisis Toolkit for Self-Care - Harvard/MGH Trauma ...

                                                                             Watch:     Wolf Pack

1   Take care of your family, friends, and loved
    ones first!
    A wolf pack is a family unit. In every       If an alpha is killed, then its mate must
    pack there is a dominant male and a          leave the pack to find a new mate. As a
    dominant female. These two individuals       result, this can destroy an entire pack
    are often referred to as the alphas.         if one of their offspring doesn’t step
    However, they’re more than just the          forward into the leadership position.
    leaders. They are the parents and the        For a pack of wolves, family is all about
    rest of the pack members are usually         survival, whether they’re all related or
    their offspring. Occasionally, the pack      not. It is important to learn from the wolf
    will adopt lone wolves who become            and take time to be with your family.
    part of their family. By working together,   Like a pack of wolves, caring for and
    they can survive dangers presented by        interacting with your loved ones can
    the wilderness. As a family unit they        help you push through difficult times.
    will hunt for food, travel across vast
    landscapes, compete against invading
    packs, and care for new pups.

    Remember you are not alone:
    Stay connected.

                                                                           Watch:    Bald Eagles

2   Know your personal and organizational ideals.
    Birds are capable of creating intricate       As a result of the pesticide DDT, the
    pieces of artwork which are known to          eagles’ eggs had soft shells that
    us as nests. Bald eagles make some of         cracked when the parents tried to
    the largest nests in the world, woven         brood them. With the help of captive
    together by sticks, grasses, and other        breeding programs and the ban
    useful materials. This project can take       of DDT, the eagle nests became
    up to three months to construct. If the       successful and the population grew.
    nest proves to be a success in rearing        The bald eagle became a conservation
    young, then the pair will return to it each   success story and they were removed
    year to continue building upon it and         from the endangered species list in
    raising eaglets. The largest known bald       2007. By being organized like an eagle,
    eagle nest was found in St. Petersburg,       you can continue to build upon your
    Florida. It was approximately nine feet       ideas year after year as you continue
    in diameter, twenty feet deep, and            to help those in need. If you don’t put
    weighed as much as three tons. It was         in the time and effort or take your job
    large enough to fit a Volkswagen inside.      seriously, then the nest will fail and new
                                                  chicks won’t fledge. In addition, your
    Bald eagles were not always successful        partnership with others can determine
    in raising young. Historically, the bald      the success of a project, like a pair of
    eagle was an endangered species.              eagles building a nest.

    See the beauty around you; and be prepared
    to protect it and to make a difference,
    no matter how great the obstacles.

                                                                  Watch:     Orb-Weaver Spider

3   Achieve clinical and cultural excellence.
    Spiders are fascinating animals and          arachnids       capable     of    building
    proactive predators. Each species has        delicate, wheel-shaped webs. They
    a unique way of capturing prey. Some         first create the frame by connecting
    lay still and wait to ambush their target.   strands to surrounding objects which
    Others may rely on trap doors to catch       serve as anchor points. Once the
    an unsuspecting invertebrate. There’s        frame is built, they weave the sticky
    even a spider capable of spitting            spiral that is used to trap flying insects
    liquid silk to capture insects. Each         upon impact. Each day or night, these
    spider builds upon its strengths to be       spiders continue to thrive by utilizing
    a successful hunter.                         their strength to build webs which are
                                                 integral to their survival. Like a spider,
    A commonly known group of spiders            you must use your own strengths to
    are the orb-weavers. These are the           achieve excellence.

    Keep up the good work.
    Build upon one’s strengths while minimizing
    one’s weaknesses.

                                                                              Watch:     Ravens

4   Engage in peer supervision and consultation.
    Ravens, like other species of corvids, are   Ravens will also work together to
    intelligent birds. They have the ability     increase their chances of success. If
    to mimic sounds, recognize faces, and        their teammate is an effective partner
    interact with other animals such as          and shares the reward, they will
    wolves. Perhaps most importantly, they       continue to work together. However, if
    also have the capability of problem          their partner tries to deceive them and
    solving. They are able to overcome           steals all the rewards, then the bird that
    obstacles or complete puzzles through        was cheated will find a new partner.
    trial and error in order to get food.        Like a raven, it’s important for you to
    Ravens study their environment to find       successfully work with others as a
    ways to maximize their survival.             team and build rapport with each other
                                                 and the patients. This way everyone will
                                                 be able to reap in the rewards.

    Be a team: “Lavoro di squadra”

                                                                          Watch:     Elephants

5   Monitor and regulate empathy.
    When you think about emotions in the       capable of recognizing themselves in
    animal kingdom, elephants are often        mirrors. Researchers discovered that
    the first species that comes to mind.      after they placed marks on the animals,
    Because they are a social animal living    the elephants will use the mirror to
    in a matriarchal society, elephants        inspect themselves and the mark. Like
    often show levels of empathy toward        elephants, we show levels of empathy for
    each other making them one of the          the patients in our care. However, this job
    most empathic species in the world.        can be exhausting and overwhelming.
    They remain aware of the calves’           That’s also why it’s important to be
    emotional state, protect each other from   like an elephant and use the mirror to
    danger, and mourn the death of others.     check in with yourself. Having empathy
                                               for yourself is as important as having
    Unlike many other animals, elephants       empathy for others.
    are one of the few species that are

    Pay attention to your level of emotional
    empathy. Ask for help when the emotional
    overload reaches a breaking point.

                                                                            Watch:     Chameleons

6   Practice personal reflection:
    spiritual and artistic.
    What’s the first thing that comes to mind      males in an attempt to prevent a fight.
    when you think of chameleons? Probably
    your answer was the ability to change          Considering chameleons are ecto-
    color. Even though they can’t become           thermic, or cold-blooded, they rely on
    completely invisible, chameleons still         their environment to help them remain
    have subtle color changes that help            warm and active. These lizards will
    them camouflage. These lizards come in         bask in the sun to warm up. In order
    all kinds of shapes and colors based on        to speed up the process, they’ll often
    where they live. As they maneuver around       change to darker colors to help absorb
    their environment, they can change the         the sun’s heat faster. While in a stressful
    shade of their pigment to help them            environment, it is important to act like a
    remain hidden from predators. Chang-           chameleon and slow down. Take breaks
    ing color also serves as a method of           to blend into your environment and
    communication with other chameleons.           reflect on the things that are important
    During breeding season, males of some          to you. Like a chameleon basking in
    species will change their skin color to red,   the sun, find your warm, happy spot so
    orange, or purple to help show off and         you can have a moment of relaxation
    attract females. These colors also serve       while harnessing positive energy to keep
    as a warning to intimidate intruding           you motivated.

    Daily reflection provides a moral compass for
    harnessing all the positive energy that exists
    in the world.

                                                                                  Watch:       Moles
    Photo: Galen Rathbun

7   Utilize deep breathing, mindfulness,
    and meditation.
    Considering moles are a fossorial              mole is capable of feeling vibrations by
    animal, a species that lives primarily         sticking its head in the sand.
    underground, their eyes have little to
    no use. A mole is basically blind. In          Unlike the mole, humans rely heavily
    some species, their eyes are so small,         on sight to navigate their environment.
    it’s difficult for biologists to locate them   However, it’s important to find comfort
    among the animal’s fur. Many kinds of          in your own personal burrow so you
    moles have weak hearing since the soil         can sit back, relax, and close your eyes.
    around their burrows muffle sounds.            Focus on your other senses. Take deep
    So, how does a mole successfully hunt          breaths to be present in the moment. As
    underground? Most species have a               kids, we often view darkness as a scary
    sensitive nose that helps them feel            thing, but darkness can bring comfort.
    vibrations and maneuver around                 Be like a mole. Close your eyes and have
    obstacles. The common mole is able to          a moment of peace in the dark.
    use smell to locate prey, while the golden

    Living in the moment, one can find joy in life.
    Learn to bring one’s full attention to our
    thoughts and surroundings.

                                                                             Watch:     Frogs

8   Conduct daily, personal self-care activities:
    caring for body and mind.
    A frog is great at changing its form as     Frogs are considered an indicator
    it goes from egg to tadpole to adult        species. These organisms are often the
    frog; truly a miracle of nature. The frog   first to decline in population, if there
    may be best known for its singing by        is a factor negatively affecting the
    lakes and ponds, especially around the      ecosystem. They’re like a canary in a
    springtime. Around the world, many          coal mine. Like the frog, you need to
    songs of frogs have disappeared. It is      pay attention to the first signs of stress.
    an amphibian crisis. Frogs, like many       Your mind and your body is like a frog in
    other amphibians, have permeable            a pond. If the pond is polluted, the frog
    skin that makes them sensitive to           will die. If you don’t take care of yourself
    their environment. Due to changes           (and the pond), then you will become
    such as pollution, habitat destruction,     polluted with negativity.
    and climate change; different frog
    species are becoming extinct in many
    ecosystems around the world.

    Look after yourself.
    Practice active daily self-care.

                                                                            Watch:    Beavers

9   Create beautiful, natural healing environments.
    Beavers are known as ecosystem                organism that benefits other organ-
    engineers. This is a title given to animals   isms. If a keystone species is removed
    who completely alter their environment.       from the environment, then habitats
    By building dams, beavers can slow            can be completely changed or de-
    the flow of water creating a deep pool        stroyed, forcing many other species
    that floods the landscape. Due to             to leave. Like a family of beavers,
    their handiwork, beautiful ponds and          we need to work together to restore
    marshes are born which then provide           damaged environments so plants and
    homes and food for other animals.             animals can return to the ecosystem.
                                                  Participating in conservation not only
    These large, aquatic rodents are also         helps organisms, but can also benefit
    known as a keystone species, an               our well-being.

    Use the tremendous healing power of nature.
    Promise to be a good steward of our
    natural world.

                                                                   Watch:    Chimpanzees

10   Evaluate self-care goals.
     Primates have several ways to             Grooming also helps the chimps
     communicate with each other and           relax. Imagine how it makes you feel
     bond within a group. One of these         when you get a haircut, or when you
     ways is through a behavior known as       have your back rubbed. How about
     social grooming. Chimpanzees rely         taking a warm shower and feeling
     on this behavior to remain healthy        refreshed before laying in bed at
     and bond with other members in their      night? Like a family of chimps bonding
     community. Social grooming allows         through social grooming, taking care
     one chimp to remove unwanted              of your-self and being aware of the
     debris from another. This behavior is     well-being of your team can help
     often reciprocal as the apes take turns   reduce the stress in the workplace
     grooming each other.                      while maintaining personal health.

     Pay attention to the quality of your team, the
     precision of your materials and skills, and the
     strength and impact of your project.

                                                                    Watch:       Snowy White Owls

11   Restore human dignity through kindness
     and compassion.
     Snowy owls are a northern species            the blizzards of the Arctic.
     capable of living in the Arctic. They
     have thick feathers that help keep           Due to the owl’s ability to survive
     them warm during winter storms.              such an extreme environment, they
     Because of the extra insulation, snowy       can be a symbol of perseverance
     owls are the heaviest owl in North           during a stressful situation. Wildlife
     America. When you think of owls, you         around the world have adapted to
     often think of a silent, nocturnal hunter.   survive harsh conditions. During these
     However, snowy owls are diurnal. This        unprecedented times, it’s important
     allows them to actively hunt during the      to look toward nature for motivation
     continuous daylight hours of the Arctic      to bring forth a sense of dignity, com-
     summers. Like other owls, they have a        passion, and kindness toward each
     flat facial disk that helps them pinpoint    other and the world around us. Each
     prey scurrying around in the deep            species has a message they can
     snow; and small bristles on their wings      teach us. Discover one that relates to
     creating silent flight. All of these are     you and use it to help you find hope
     adaptations which help the owl survive       within yourself.

     Through your contemplation of the laws of
     nature and their spiritual meaning, you will
     emanate to others in your person a great
     sense of dignity, compassion, and kindness.


Urban Animals
As humans face unprecedented times where being physically social and
connected with each other is increasingly more difficult, there’s a risk that we
may also experience a decreased connection to nature due to your personal
habitat being in the city or typically viewed as separate from nature. No
matter where you live, whether in the country, suburbs, city, an ecosystem
always exists that is filled with different animals and insects that connect
to the human experience. In most cities, people will not encounter animals
like owls, caribou, and wolves. However, there are many animals that have
adapted to life in an urban setting and can be associated with the different
aspects of our human existence and experience.

PIGEON                                       DRAGONFLY
The pigeon has beautifully adapted to        Dragonflies are known for their good
many aspects of city life and is one of      luck and speed while in flight. These
the most common birds you will see any       beautiful big-eyed insects have been
many urban areas around the world.           around for about 300 million years!
While they seem like pests, pigeons are      They can be resilient to their
an important seed spreading animal.          surroundings and enjoy the
Like birds, they successfully help many      beauty of their environment.
plants procreate throughout the city. Just   Like many insects, they can
like every other animal, they play a very    survive and thrive in most
important role in the urban environment,     environments whether it be the
no matter how small or insignificant their   city or countryside. Over the course of
behaviors may seem. While commonly           their evolution, they have readjusted
    thought of as dirty animals, the         their survival skills many times, which
       pigeon is able to clean up the mess   have allowed them to survive and
        of other city animals, including     adapt to what they are today. This type
        humans, and plays a significant      of resilience is key, especially in a time
        role in the ecosystem when then      where we as a community must keep
      spread seeds, which in turn creates    changing, learning, and adapting to not
food for other urban-dwelling creatures.     only survive but also thrive.
The pigeon not only survives but also
contributes, collectively, with other
pigeons in a flock. They work together as
a community to spread seeds and alert
each other when good things, like food,
are available.

RACCOON                                         COTTONTAIL RABBIT
Often thought of as a mischievous               The cottontail rabbit is a common furry
creature that does nothing but eats             friend that can be seen across cities
trash and makes messes, the raccoon is          and suburbs. The cottontail
family-oriented animals that make very          rabbit is a prey animal, who’s
useful contributions to cities. For example,    skittish and careful demeanor
during the mating season, raccoons will         leads     to   their    survivor
       break off into two groups, one           mentality. As they have litters,
          male and the other female.            there are predators that come to
          Collectively, the males will          snatch the young, however, while many
          protect the females during this       may not survive there are many that
          period until their kits are born.     do. This survival instinct is in all of us.
       This family-oriented aspect of the       Adversity makes its way into our lives
raccoon can be observed in humans as            and tests this survival part of us, where
well. While in most cases we do not need        there is the need to protect ourselves
to fend off other humans to protect our         and our friends and family.
young, there is a broader community
that helps to raise a human child. This
human community may include family              BUTTERFLY
and friends or school programs, and
other people in the community involved          Butterflies, come in different sizes, colors,
in the upbringing and safety of our             and patterns, yet one thing they have in
children.                                       common is that they are all stunning to
                                                look at. As they flutter through the city,
                                                they can bring color to an otherwise dull
BEE                                             pavement and are attracted to beautiful
                                                park flowers and planters of flowers
One of the most important insects to our        on stoops of houses and apartments.
    ecosystem are among some of the             This small and gentle insect is a key
          smallest. Though the bee isn’t        sign of biodiversity, so it is always a joy
           the biggest, they are able to do     to see them flying about the city. Their
            amazing feats like pollinating      individual beauty and softness
            our urban plant life, creating      can be seen in every single
           beautiful  beehives,    making       human being. The individuality
       honey, and working together as a         in butterflies comes from a
colony. This community insect is driven         magical process that happens
to exist and work for the good of the           in the chrysalis that transforms
whole and is a brave little creature that       the caterpillar to the adult butterfly. This
will stand against bigger animals or            process is mirrored in the human being
insects when there is a threat. This trait in   as we are born and transform over time,
the little bee can be seen in our own lives     developing and correcting, until we
as we strive to protect those in our own        reach our truest form of individuality.
relationship bubbles.

SEAGULL                                     LADYBUG
Found in cities close to the oceans and     Another lucky creature, who is known as
coastal towns, seagulls are always          one that lives limitlessly and untroub-
      found in a colony, or group. They     led. The ladybug is brightly colored and
         are known for their carefree       can spark a joy when observed. Being
          attitude that allows them to      a solitary, mostly, ladybugs a great
          go where the wind, and food,      reminder of the beauty that can come
          takes them. They have a loud      with being on your own and being
        squawk that allows them to          self-reflective. Channel this little friend
 communicate with each other, and           as you walk down the street, and no-
make sure that they are heard no mat-       tice the beauty around you, even in
ter how large the group is. Sometimes       cities, there are many beautiful
as humans, being heard in a crowd-          sights just waiting to be taken
ed or unfamiliar situation can be hard.     in. Ladybugs are found every-
Finding your individual voice amongst       where, and in each setting
a crowd, like the seagull, is achievable,   whether it be the city or the
though must be worked towards.              countryside, they bring beauty
                                            and tranquility.

Sometimes, it is hard to relate to an animal or insect that you’ve never seen
before or it isn’t present in your environment. However, you can use this
approach to customize your toolkit and alter it to match your personal exper-
iences and needs. Take a walk outside and see all the amazing living creatures
that live around you. Every animal or insect can be valued in your life.

Welcome to an exciting section of this self-care protocol. You will be engaging in
learning activities presented by our fellow naturalists, artists, and neuroscientists
that not only engage you in nature, but also can help you reduce your stress and
daily work tension. So many healthcare practitioners are working extraordinary
hours caring for very ill, and not so ill, persons with COVID-19. Work hours are long
and exhausting. Others, some of them young, are also working hard in resource-
poor environments, often with limited resources and supervision. They are
caring for the most vulnerable people—the homeless, elderly, veterans, and the
poor. The following nature-based activities will not only reduce stress and help
offset institutional burnout but can also bring joy into the life of our courageous
health care staff and our young activists. Joy, beauty, and a healing, nurturing
environment are all elements of much-needed care as we care for those who
are caring for others.

These nature-based self-care practices      breathe slowly and deeply while turning
are supported by a solid body of re-        your full attention to the image on the
search in the neurosciences. Each of our    card. This reflection requires as few as 5
presenters offers additional scientific     minutes to begin to calm down strong
references for review.                      emotions and help you settle down,
                                            deescalating the intensity of feeling
For those who are very busy and have        in your mind and body. After this brief
little time for self-care, I can suggest    period of reflection, you can get back to
one practice that takes 5 minutes a day     the heavy emotional demands facing
and is inexpensive but effective, called    you with greater energy, calm, and
“Nature Self-Care Reflection Cards.” The    confidence. Over time you may find that
basic idea is that you choose an animal     you wish to make additional cards with
or a nature scene that is moving and        different animal and nature scenes.
meaningful to you. You can use animal
images, for example, from this Animal       My pocket card is the hawk.
Metaphor site. You can print out this
image in the size of a playing card and
then have it laminated inexpensively at
a local office supply store. You now have
a beautiful, laminated nature image
“pocket card” that can be carried safely
anywhere in your pocket, purse, or bag.

Now here is the self-care approach.
Whenever you feel you are experiencing
a build-up of stress or heavy emotion,
you can mentally step back from the
situation; take out your pocket card; and

I have a great love for this bird, which      feature animal and nature images,
I am privileged to see often in my            often called flash cards.
neighborhood. Many times, when
I have been in a serious state of             A quote from the American naturalist
distress with work or medical issues,         and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau:
the hawk image and all it represents
seems to come to my rescue. Looking           As a single footstep will not make a
at this image, one can immediately            path on the earth, so a single thought
feel a great joy: the image is uplifting,     will not make a pathway in the mind.
inspiring, and full of positive energy. Is    To make a deep physical path, we
this not the self-healing “medication”        walk again and again. To make a
we need when we are bogged down               deep mental path, we must think over
with stress and empathically suffer           and over the kind of thoughts we wish
the pain of others? Please take the           to dominate our lives.
time to reflect upon and choose those         			                      Walden Pond
animal and nature images that have
greatest meaning for you. There are           Enjoy the journey up ahead!
plenty of tools and instructions on the       Richard F. Mollica
Internet for making pocket cards that

By Eugene F. Augusterfer
Reflection on one’s life is an                “to tap writing’s healing power, one
important component of well-being,            must use it to reflect, better understand
understanding, and wisdom. Confucius          and learn from one’s emotions” (1).
was to have said that “Reflection is the      Richard Mollica, who brought us “The
most royal road to wisdom” . Reflection       Trauma Story” says the Trauma Story is
can take many forms, including solitary       a joint effort between the therapist and
thought, meditation and prayer (need          the patient which allows the patient to
not be religious), or interaction with a      reflect on his/her story in the presence
trusted friend or colleague. A useful tool    of an empathetic listener over a period
for reflection is reflective writing. Writ-   of time (2). The act of thinking about an
ing, especially reflective writing, allows    experience and expressing emotions
one to focus one’s thoughts, feelings,        in writing seems to be important by
and sensations in written form.               helping the writer organize thoughts
                                              and give meaning to a memory or a
Two important scholars have helped            traumatic experience. Writing may also
document the importance of reflective         enable the writer to better regulate
writing, James Pennebaker and Richard         their emotions. It is also possible that
Mollica. Pennebaker has spent most            writing about a traumatic event fosters
of his career studying the impact of          an intellectual process through the
reflective writing. He says that “it is not   act of constructing a story which aids
just venting one’s feelings”, but rather,     emotional regulation (2).

Finally, when people write about a traumatic event or difficult situation, they are
more likely to talk with others about it — suggesting that writing leads indirectly
to reaching out for social support that can aid healing. Here are some practice
tips to help with reflective writing (3).

  •   Write about an event, or events,           • Write about a special memory from
      that you have been thinking about,           the recent past or distant memory…
      positive or troublesome…
                                                 • If you have been avoiding some
  •   Write something that you feel is             thing or someone, write about it
      affecting your life in a positive or         as a way of developing a better
      unhealthy way…                               understanding of the issue…

               •   Write something that you are dreaming about…

                            REFLECTIVE WRITING GUIDE

                                                                Recalling any feelings during
  Summation of experience                                       the experience
                 in writing
                                                       Recalling any physical sensations
  Recalling any thoughts during                        during the experience
                 the experience

If you decide to try reflective writing, do    Lastly, this method can, and does, enhance
not try to write the next great novel, rath-   the therapeutic process of L.U.D.A. (3)
er, just jot down your thoughts and feel-      • Listening
ings. As you continue this process you         • Understanding
will most likely delve deeper into your        • (with) Deep
inner thoughts and feelings. Remember,         • Appreciation
this is for you and you alone (unless you
chose to share it with someone). If you
are planning to use this method with
a patient/client, we suggest you use it
yourself first and become comfortable
                                               1. Mollica, R.F., Healing Invisible Wounds: Paths
with the method.                               to Hope and Recovery in a Violent World, Har-
                                               court, 2006.
At a personal level, I have used this many
times with patients/clients and I have         2. Paparo, Franco, Unpublished manuscript,
found it very useful, especially when the      2014.

process seems stuck. Ask the patient
                                               3. Pennebaker, J.W., & Chung, C.K. (2007). Expres-
to use reflective writing as a tool, then      sive writing, emotial upheavals, and health. In H.
bring their notes to the session to use as     Friedman and R. Silver (Eds.), Handbook of health
a springboard for discussion. Again, this      psychology (pp. 263-284). New York: Oxford Uni-
can be very useful and therapeutic.            versity Press.

    By Matt Daly
1   Start with a brief meditation or take a few deep breaths before you begin (at
    home find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed). Reflect on your sensory
    experience. (Awareness of senses helps keep one grounded).

2   Prepare yourself with a conversation with your emotions and your spirit.

3   There is no magic - just pick up the pen or pencil and put it on the page.

4   Privacy is key, if you are going to write without censor.

5   Begin anywhere and forget spelling and punctuation.

6   Do not take your pen off the page; if you get stuck just keep your pen on the page

    and say to yourself and write “I will soon be ready to go!”
    Write quickly as this frees your brain from “should” and other blocks to successful
    reflective writing. If you feel stuck, zoom in on some detail and describe it fully –
    this can be very evocative and freeing.
    Do not listen to your EDITOR, whatever you write is fine! It is best not to go back
    and read over what you have written – it is hard not to edit yourself if you do.
    The most important rule of all is “there are no rules” – let go and write!

    • Now, reflect on the Empathy Wheel as you begin this reflective writing exercise.
    • Write for 10 to 15 minutes.

    *This model was developed by Lara Tupper of the Kripalu Yoga Retreat Center
    with the assistance of Matt Daly and modifications by Richard F. Mollica.

    For some writing prompts sent to your email, visit

    Daly, Matt, and Lucy Flood. “Writing.” Write to Thrive,
    Tupper, Lara. Lara Tupper - New Novel out Now,

By Sandy McDermott
As a Natural Science Illustrator, Artist    distraction. I call this self-care. Nature
and Instructor since 1992, almost           Journaling is a beautiful and necessary
everything I know about the natural         technique allowing me to escape the
world comes from observing and              concerns of daily life in a holistic way
taking notes in a sketchbook. Nature        and keep my spirit balanced.
Journaling is one of the easiest and
most enjoyable ways to discover the
wild plants and animals around you.
No special skill is required to start a
nature journal. With only a pen or pencil
and a sheet or two of paper anyone
can begin journaling on their own. In
addition to sketching, the journal can
include a record of time, place, date,
and weather conditions. Combining
pictures, even stick-like figures if that
is your comfort level, and words can be
quite simple and informative. Numbers
can be used in all sorts of ways to add
to the developing story on the page.

An added benefit of Nature Journaling
is mindfulness. Mindfulness leads to a      At first, Nature Journaling might feel
calmness of the soul and a feeling of       overwhelming; many of us shy away
presence. Calmness of the soul leads to     because we “lack” drawing skills. It can
better mind and body health. Presence       also take a while to settle the brain and
allows one to be in the moment without      quiet one’s self to engage the jour-
                                            naling process. Fear not. Embrace the
                                            process. Find a quiet place to sit alone.
                                            Close your eyes. Breathe. Again. Slower
                                            this time. Listen for one full minute.
                                            Allow the surrounding sounds and
                                            scents to reach your brain. Now open
                                            your eyes. What do you see within arm’s
                                            reach? Flowers blooming? Ants or bees
                                            working? A chipmunk collecting nuts to
                                            cache for the winter? Feel the air? Can
                                            you feel the rain coming? How much
                                            daylight is present? Breathe. Draw. Take
                                            notes. No one is judging your skills.


Reaching that state of mind fills me with the sense that nothing else matters
except that moment in that place I am sitting. If I use up all my time observing
with only my eyes, ears or nose, it is still time well spent. My nature journaling goal
is to learn about my environment, my backyard or neighborhood, by tapping
into a childhood sense of curiosity: When do the leaves start turning color? Who
made this stunning web in the wet grass while I was sleeping last night? Where
do ravens gather to roost each night? Slowly and quietly make acquaintance
with those “wild things” that share your neighborhood.

Nature Journaling is something you can do alone or with family and friends, for
the wellbeing of all. The benefits to mind, body and soul are measurable and
worthy to be shared. Please contact me if you wish to learn more about Nature
Journaling as a means to mindfulness and connecting with the wilds of your

McDermott, Sandy. Sandy McDermott,

         A SUMMARY
         By Emily Hermann
         The trees need us, just as we          bathing, but, as it is practiced more, the
         need them. In Your Guide to            other benefits will be more visible.
         Forest Bathing: Experience the         Clifford breaks down the different
         Healing Power of Nature by             elements of forest bathing, to better
         M. Amos Clifford, the reader is        show how one can best experience
         submersed in the great tool of         nature. He first talks about the pace,
forest bathing as a self-care strategy.         when forest bathing. Where walking
Walking through nature, taking in the           is “slow and relaxed”. Next, in order to
smells, sounds, and feelings of the world       forest bathe, the walk doesn’t have to
around you is the recognition of nature         be far, he said that less than a quarter
that leads you to this strategy that can        of a mile is a good amount. Being
be incredibly useful. The concept of            cognizant of one’s senses and receive,
current forest bathing came from the            which is a part of communication, the
Japanese practice, Shinrin-Yoku which           information and nature. Also, there
was established in 1982, but the concept        has to be reciprocity where “we don’t
of forest bathing has ancient roots that        just take from the forest... it is about a
exist in most cultures.                         partner relationship... let your forest
                                                bathing practice be a continual inquiry”
There are many great benefits to forest         (1, p. 42)
bathing. Clifford makes separates the
benefits into different sections that are       Through this book, the reader can not
dis-tinguished as: “Simple relaxation...        only receive information about what
Physical Health and Well-Being of               forest bathing is, but also how to have
Humans... Emotional and Mental                  the optimal experience while forest
Health... Activism in Action... Healthy         bathing. The different areas of forest
Forest Ecosystems... Social Connection...       bathing are not limited to this summary,
Spiritual Practice and Mindfulness in           but instead are expanded and grown
Nature... [and] Authentic Relationship          on through Your Guide to Forest Bathing:
with Nature” (1, p. 15-39).                     Experience the Healing Power of Nature.
                                                The greatest way to forest bathe is to
These different aspects of benefits,            fully immerse oneself in the experience
while may not be immediately obvious,           and allow the influx of nature awareness
will prove themselves to be actively            that wouldn’t normally be recognized on
beneficial. Simple relaxation will be the       an everyday level. Nature is waiting to be
first and most obvious reward of forest         understood, appreciated, and explored.

1. Clifford, M. Amos. Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature. Red
Wheel Weiser, 2020.

By Matt Daly
Our physical senses engage us in              you feel yourself drawn to a process or
direct relationship with the natural          object that focuses your experience
world. Sensory awareness allows us to         through a particular sense. If you can
more skillfully reflect on the value of our   sit down close to the object or process
experiences of the natural world and its      that focused your experience, sit down.
necessity in our lives. Although we are       If not, remain standing and try to still.
always having sensory experiences, we         Let your focus on the sense that drew
may not regularly focus on the complex        you in intensify.
ways what we sense makes us feel. Here
are a few suggestions for how to develop      Slowly expand your sensory experience
skillful sensory awareness while in the       while remaining focused on the object or
natural world:                                process that drew your attention. Let the
                                              senses work together to provide a fuller
First, move through the natural               awareness of the object or process and
environment quietly. It can be helpful        the web of other objects and processes
to move vigorously enough to feel like        in which it is a part. Rest in this expanded
you are making an effort. Beginning to        sensory noticing of a particular object or
feel an increase in your heart rate and       process.
breathing can be good indicators that
you are physically engaged with your          When you feel ready, take out your
experience of nature. Now slow down           journal and pen or pencil. Start by
and begin to become aware of your             drawing lines to separate your page
senses. Look around remembering that          into six rows. Dedicating one row to
“around” includes up and down. Take a         each sense, write as much as you can
deep breath in through your nose and          about each sensory experience. It may
be aware of all of the scents and smells      be helpful to title each row with each of
than come in. Listen with both ears to the    the senses. If something you write in one
full range of sounds, and then focus on       row makes you notice another sense,
what your left ear hears and then your        jump to that sense’s row and write the
right ear. Keep walking while you do this.    description of that sense. You may have
Smack your lips to notice any tastes.         already realized that there is one more
Open your hands and extend them until         row than there are physical senses. That
they touch branches, grasses, boulders,       row is for what we might think of as your
and whatever natural objects surround         sixth sense, your intuition, and/or how
you. Keep moving slowly while you focus       you feel emotionally in concert with your
on each sense individually.                   physical senses. Make sure to dedicate
                                              some time to reflecting on and writing
Now that you have given a little attention    about this sixth sense.
to each sense, expand your awareness
to the ways your senses work together.
Keep moving while you experience the          Reference
sensory symphony that surrounds you.          Daly, Matt. Wild Nature and the Human Spirit; A
Keep doing this until a particular sensory    Field Guide to Journal Writing and Nature. Art
experience naturally draws your focus         Work by Murie, Olaus J. Grand Teton Natural
                                              History Association, 2004.
to a particular sense. Stop moving when

By Marjorie Agosín and Richard F. Mollica

Writing poetry requires its own unique            written in clear, simple descriptive words
rhythm. It is impossible to write a poem          with no similes or metaphors. Haiku also
quickly; each line requires the reader to         has the ability to capture the smallest
write slowly and carefully, to take the time      elements in the vastness of nature as
to pause and contemplate, to discover             well as ordinary and everyday things.
the interior rhythm that deepens the              As such, the haiku has the extraordinary
poetic experience. The experience of              ability to name the world with a rhythm
writing a poem is enriched because of             that is gentle, deceptively simple, and
those pauses, that are themselves like            most importantly, contemplative. Here
enchanting rhythms. Like the silver belt          is an example of one of Japan’s most
of the alchemists, the poetic experience          famous haiku poems, by the great poet,
transforms us. Recent neuroscientific             Matsuo Bashō:
studies reference important discoveries
regarding how listening to music or                   Furu ike ya
reading poetry affect the brain, even                 kawazu tobikomu
producing therapeutic benefits for                    mizu no oto
certain ailments.
                                                      The old pond
                                                      A frog jumps in
Since the sixteenth century, the
                                                      The sound of the water
Japanese, with their contemplative
spirit and their skill at Kintusi, the art of         Translated by R. H. Blyth
repairing broken poetry with incredible
delicacy, have been composing a                   Haiku can revoke the world. The poet
marvelous poetic form, the haiku, which,          is simply the agent who endeavors to
in its traditional form, is comprised of          name it and feel it in order to share
three lines and a total of 17 syllables.          it with another reader. Through its
Traditionally it is written in 3 lines, in 5-7-   enlightening form of expression, the
5 syllables.                                      haiku transforms what we see without
                                                  obstructing anything, only gently in-
This is the age-old tradition of the haiku.       dicating our surroundings in a delicate
It is a contemplative form of poetry,             and deep way, like the mere poetic
keen in its feeling and its observation           expression of a feeling.
of nature’s great miracles and sublime            Many Japanese poets who are masters
beauty, like the vastness of the sea, the         at composing haikus, like Bashō,
changing seasons, as well as the trees,           have managed to awaken our senses.
plants, and animals. The haiku poet tries         Nevertheless, haikus are composed
to share with their reader their direct           today throughout the world, wherever
experience of the natural world. It is            benevolent feelings and expressions
You can also read