The first time I hugged a tree, I looked around to make sure no one was looking. In fact, I made sure no one was around at all.
I'd read studies by Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, the scientist who proved that plants indeed held awareness, perhaps even emotion.
In 1966, the CIA scientist Dr Cleve Backster conducted almost 3 decades of research, also proving that plants had emotions and could react not only to people and situation in their environment but even thoughts directed to them.
Walking up to the tree, I touched the rough bark - the skin - of this being. I reached around and hugged it, gazing up at it for a while. It felt slightly awkward, like you do when you hug someone for the first time. But it also felt good, so I did it again. I didn’t know quite why I wanted to hug the tree, but something about it drew me.
This time I hugged it a bit longer, closing my eyes. That was a good idea. I felt something this time, a sense of the life moving through the tree, the sap, the energy. I stopped breathing for a minute - the sense was now much stronger.
I wondered how far the roots went, deep into the earth, around whatever man-made structures lay under the soil.
Resting in the embrace for a while, looking up into the leaves and not really thinking, I felt a great sense of peace and calm, and knew this energy was somehow being transmitted between us. But whether it was from the tree to me, or the connection was drawing this out of me, I did not know.
I began to look for opportunities to hug one particular tree, a great maple. Each time I returned, it seemed as though the tree knew me. The very idea sounded silly, even to my own mind. But - did it really matter if I was imagining it? I still thought this sounded far too crazy to share with anyone.
And one day I noticed that the energy from the maple seemed to have its own characteristics – a steady, sturdy, strong and benign presence. This was a new and thrilling discovery...
Did different types of trees have their own kind of personality?
The day I had this thought, I ran over to a silver birch tree, almost falling over myself in my excitement to see what I would feel. I embraced the silver birch. This tree was younger, more slender. I closed my eyes and – this tree felt youthful, it felt playful! ...
And so began my love affair with trees, the mysterious sentinels of Gaia. Wherever I traveled, I began to seek out the local trees, embrace them and share their energy. On vacation, I’d connect with the local trees and ask them to send my love to the trees back home through their mysterious network of roots and non-physical energy. And at home, I’d send love through my maples and birches to their palm families in Hawaii or California or elsewhere.
Trees hold ancient wisdom and resilience, their roots entwined with the history of humans. Perhaps their rings hold the energy of each generation, their hopes, their sadness, their joys, lives and dreams. And does this universal consciousness pass from tree to tree, through the world, through their networks? Are trees the lungs of Mother Earth, connecting nature and humans, breathing in all we exhale, expend, and giving us fresh life?
Trees connect us to the Earth in a way that the frenetic energy of society and the internet does not.
Sometimes, like today as I’m writing this, I forget and I feel the “overwhelm” of life and busyness and activities. When the weather doesn’t allow me to go for the healing daily walk I need to refresh my soul, I remember that I don’t even need to be near or around the trees to feel their connection.
And so, I would love to share with you this wonderful practice whenever you feel alone, disconnected or overwhelmed.
Or whenever you feel the magic pull of the trees...
Look for a tree near you – just observe it at first. What kind of tree is it? Try touching it, first a gentle touch by hand, then if you feel comfortable move into an embrace. What do you feel?
Visit one tree a day. Sit near it, under it, touch it or hug it and begin to notice how you feel each time – your feelings will change as you connect more often.
When you can’t be near a tree physically for whatever reason, place your feet on the ground and visualize – feel – the energy running from your body down into the ground, into the earth, and moving towards a grove of trees or a park – or even one single tree. Make the connection energetically - link to their roots, and rest, just BE. Relax in this moment knowing you are connected to the Earth in a powerful and grounded way.
How did that feel?
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