Can you imagine? The stories of the Trees

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This is a beautiful poem by one of my favourite poets Mary Oliver, who expresses her  wisdom with the natural world. I have always loved trees, their silent vibrance and serenity- a state in nature which sometimes we overlook or forget. Have you ever been drawn to a tree, to sit under its leafy canopy and feel its droplets of healing energy raining down upon you, leaving you peaceful. Have you felt its heartbeat connecting with yours?

CAN YOU IMAGINE?

For example, what the trees do

not only in lightning storms

or the watery dark of a summer’s night

or under the white nets of winter

but now, and now, and now – whenever

we’re not looking. Surely you can’t imagine

they don’t dance, from the root up, wishing

to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting

a better view, or more sun, or just as avidly

more shade – surely you can’t imagine

they just stand there loving

every minute of it, the birds

or the emptiness, the dark rings

of the years slowlyand without a sound thickening,

and nothing different unless the wind,

and then only in its own mood, comes

to visit, surely you can’t imagine

patience, and happiness, like that.

The Tree Within Us

Let me invite you to view the tree within us…

Our body has many systems much like that of a tree. The blood circulates from the heart, the root, and branches into arteries, veins and smaller blood vessels. Likewise, the respiratory system air enters the body through the nasal passage then the bronchi, which branches into the lungs. The messages of the nervous system radiate from the brain and spinal cord through major nerves and then smaller, and smaller nerves to reach every part of the body. Finally, it returns the process back, toward to point of origin, life force flows from the finest roots and furtherest twigs back toward the trunk.

Then we have our mental and emotional process:

  • An emotion is triggered by event or experience, but the true root cause is in the unconscious, as the tree roots are hidden in the earth.
  • In a situation which prompts an emotional response we tend to react in the same way.  It becomes the trunk of our patterned behaviour.
  • Our feelings drive us to a need to make a choice, and branches split off. If we carry through with a choice, it bears fruit, as a tree does, and it may be sweet or sour.
  • When we think the problem is solved, we are shocked when it reappears. Like seeds of  a tree laying underground and out of sight, then later appearing in the form of another tree – not the same but a copy or related.

The Healing Power of Trees

In modern day medicine they mostly separate the physical and the emotional, yet with their roots firmly in the ground and their branches reaching up to the skies, trees remind us that the two are planted firmly together.

Trees provide breathable air, timber, fuel, food, shelter, medicine and beauty. Without trees, it would be very difficult to live. They can help us think better — Plato and Aristotle did their best thinking in the olive groves around Athens, Buddha found enlightenment beneath a bo tree, and Isaac Newton realised his theory of gravity when an apple fell from the tree under which he was sitting — and they can help us feel better.

Here’s just a sampling of what researchers have discovered about our healing  relationship with trees:

  • The Japanese have a word for this feeling — shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. In 2004, Japan’s National Land Afforestation Promotion Organisation conducted an experiment and discovered that a forest stroll had beneficial effects on blood pressure, heart rate and the immune system. They also found that people who just looked at a forest view for 20 minutes had a 13 per cent lower concentration of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Hospital patients with a window view of trees need less pain medication and are  discharged sooner than patients with treeless views.
  • Given a choice between a scene with trees and one without trees, people of all ages and ethnic groups from various countries prefer the scene with trees regardless of whether they live in urban, suburban or rural areas.
  • Just knowing that natural places are available nearby makes a residence more appealing to buyers.
  • People are more satisfied with their neighborhoods if there are trees on or near their property. They describe their quality of life as safer, more pleasant and are more satisfying than people living in homes without trees nearby.
  • Residents living in apartments with a window view of tress are significantly less aggression toward family members than those whose windows look onto concrete, asphalt or barren earth.  This includes their making fewer insults and threats and other psychologically aggressive behavior.
  • Police report lower crime rates in areas of public housing developments that have a density of trees.
  • Residents of urban public housing use common spaces with trees more often than common spaces that are barren of trees.

Click here for a real life story of the healing power of trees.


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2 responses »

  1. Beautiful post. Trees are such wonderful beings. I love spending time with them.

    I had never heard of forest bathing before. What a wonderful idea!

  2. So beautiful, thank you for sharing. I use to climb up trees when I was little just to go and sit in there branches. It felt peaceful, I felt safe and at one with nature rather than separate from it… I had a tree once and I had asked my dad not to cut it down when the men came to “clean up” the mountain; they didn’t and it is still there 🙂

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