Our lives are inextricably linked to the majesty and wonder of nature. In fact, human life is possible on our planet because of the gifts of the natural world and the exquisite dance that occurs between the sacred elements of air, water, fire and earth. The divine intelligence of nature knows how to maintain the exact conditions that keep the Earth’s ecology in balance. What a precious gift!
Although the abundant blessings of nature are too many to name here, let’s look at one expression of the natural world that holds a special place in many people’s hearts — the splendor and magnificence of trees.
From an ecological perspective, trees are quite phenomenal. These green giants absorb carbon dioxide, which helps reduce the greenhouse gas effect, and then release oxygen into the air for us to breathe. One mature tree creates as much oxygen in one season as 10 people inhale in a full year! Trees clean the air by absorbing pollutants like ammonia, sulfur oxide, ozone, and nitrogen oxides. They also trap particulates in their bark and leaves, which filters these substances out of the air.
Trees generously offer shade and release water vapor from their leaves, which can reduce the temperature in a city by 10 degrees. This reduces the need for air conditioning in the summer, which in turn reduces carbon dioxide emissions. Trees also clean the soil by either absorbing pollutants or transmuting chemicals and other pollutants into less harmful forms.
From a Native American perspective, a tree is seen as an ancient and sacred expression of the Great Spirit that holds powerful symbolism. A tree’s roots reach deep down into the earth, while the branches reach up into the sky, symbolically representing a bridge between heaven and earth. Trees can be wonderful teachers for humans in the art of being rooted and grounded to the earth and within our bodies, while simultaneously reaching upward towards the heavens in expansion.
Studies have shown that people who are recovering from an illness heal faster and with fewer complications if they have a view of trees from their window. If merely looking at a tree can facilitate healing, connecting with a tree in person provides an opportunity to receive even more benefits.
A simple way to deepen your connection with nature and yourself is to sit with your back up against a tree. I suggest removing your shoes and socks (weather permitting), but this is not necessary. As you sit with your spine resting on the tree trunk, you can place your hands on the trees as well, perhaps near the roots. Notice how it feels. Each tree has it’s own unique personality, just like each flower, insect, animal, and human, so you may notice different qualities, sensations, and experiences depending on the tree you sit with. Generally speaking, people often experience a sense of peace, relaxation, and balance.
One reason for these positive feelings may be related to the ability trees have to balance our whole self. Similar to the way that trees remove toxins from the air, the energetics of trees also allows them to clear away and transmute disrupted energy within our bodies and the surrounding environment. Walking or driving through a forest is like moving through an energetic car wash in which negative energy is effortlessly cleared away by the healing properties of the trees.
Another reason for these positive feelings may be related to the way that nature offers us an opportunity to experience the felt sense of something real and authentic. The magic of nature, with its natural rhythms and innate wisdom, can help us move beyond the false constructs of our modern world and the limiting beliefs we develop about who we are. As we sit under a tree and connect with the depth of presence found in nature, it can be easier to access this same depth of presence within our Self. Here we can more easily touch in to our True Self that exists beyond all space and time, and all labels, patterns, and false selves that we have been conditioned to adopt in our daily lives.
Lastly, it’s helpful to express gratitude to the tree for its presence and whatever you received from your time with it. As is the case with all expressions of gratitude to the divine, we do not say, “thank you” because the tree needs it. Instead, our expression of gratitude helps to open our own hearts to how interconnected we are with nature and all of life. Our gratitude also serves as a sweet reminder about how amply we are provided for.
With love & gratitude ~ Erin Stohl