Would you also like to make friends with the trees in your surroundings? It is possible. You don’t have to be highly sensitive to subtle energy like I was when I discovered that I could talk with the trees, though it might require you to do some extra effort and inner work before you are receptive enough to feel their pulse or hear their voice.
Over the years I have gathered my insights and have taken friends to the woods as well. I am fairly confident that with my help and your own true and open heart you can start building your own and personal working relationship with the trees around you.
How to choose a tree?
Over the years of working with trees, I have noticed that it is often the monumental, eye-catching trees that are close to paths, that are also quite easy to work with. They are used to having people around them and are often of a certain age that they also have a lot to share.
Distant trees, away from paths, are also more distant in nature and seem to like their privacy. But with a little patience and the right intent, they could give you wonderful results.
In places where the trees have less of an individual character, which is often the case in production forests, the energy is more that of the collective. It is then a lot harder to separate the energy of one tree from its neighbor.
That one tree that immediately went through your mind while reading this, is most likely a good one.
A few things first
Now you have chosen a tree, please try to understand the nature of a tree. Trees are still beings, and therefore require our inner stillness in order to connect with them. They also require you to take down your defense and bridle your ego. If you built a wall around you, you can’t blame the tree for not trying hard enough to reach you. If you are too full of yourself or too self-confident, a tree ignoring you altogether is probably a lesson you need. To meet a tree means to meet them on their level, and this requires some dignity and humbleness and openness of heart.
Trees are usually very kind and well-willing beings. Some are easier to sense and hear than others, though. If you’re not getting any results, it might require a bit more work before the tree makes itself available to you. If the ego is a problem, consider bringing offerings to the tree before asking anything in return.
Upon entering the forest
The normal, A-to-B-kind of pace, often even hurried, or worse: in competition with yourself or others doing some kind of sports, is way too much for a tree. When you want to work on your connection with the trees, it is important to slow down your pace. Sloooow. Slow down even more. Lighten and soften your steps. Become slower and stiller.
Quiet your mind and engage your senses. You could use your own method for this, for instance through meditation, but what I like to do and do also with others is to bring the focus to your senses. The goal is to attune yourself so that you are able to feel subtle energy.
When you are in a place where you will not be disturbed (preferably close to the tree you chose for your first attempt of connection), look around you and take in your surroundings. Now close your eyes. Since vision is the primary sense which we rely on most, we will first focus on the others.
Take a few deep breaths in through your nose, and let your breath flow out on relaxation. Feel how the inwards flowing air is colder, and the outwards flowing air is warmer. On every out-breath, let go of all the tension in your body. Your body will relax, and your mind will relax.
Now, hear and listen. You will probably hear the wind, the birds, maybe the rain, or traffic, or other people or animals. Don’t label what you hear, this is not a practice of the mind but of the heart. Just listen to the symphony of the forest and let the sounds flow into you.
Then, you focus on what you feel around you. Do you feel the atmosphere? Maybe it is cold and damp, or warm and dry. Feel the sensation on your skin. Feel the drops of rain and the flow of air by the wind. If the sun is shining, turn your head towards the sun and catch the sunlight with your face and your hand palms. Feel yourself absorbing the sunlight and filling yourself with the warmth.
Now, smell the forest. Again, you don’t have to label the smells that you discover. Just experience them flowing into your body. Fully engage yourself with the smell.
Now, taste the forest. Taste? Yes! You don’t have to put anything in your mouth (you may, if you are fairly certain it’s not toxic plants, but please do it some other time than now, and not on my advice). No, I ask you to taste the air of the forest. Just like it has a certain smell you can also taste this smell. The way to do this is by opening your lips a little bit with your mouth closed, and sucking in the air through the little openings between your teeth. The air will reach the taste buds on your tongue. This is how you can experience and submerge in the taste of the forest.
Quietly open your eyes and look around you. Has the forest around you changed? There is a big chance you will notice deeper colors, little flickerings of light and small details that you previously wouldn’t notice. Your senses are now heightened and your mind is at peace.
Meeting with your tree
Now it is time to meet the tree. Hopefully, after this preparation, you will be light-hearted and light-footed. You can just follow your instincts, you don’t need to approach the tree in a specific special way. If I would ask you to, I would only ask you to engage your mind and that is what I want to prevent after you so carefully prepared yourself in submerging in your senses.
Therefore, do what feels right. Say hello and talk, if you want to. Feel the bark and the leaves with the loving touch of your fingers, if you like to. But, be open. Have an open heart, be an open channel, be open to receive.
For the first meeting, it would be wonderful if you would be able to feel the energy (“Who is this tree, how does he or she feel?”) and heartbeat (“Hey, this tree has a pulse and I can feel it!”). Just like when preparing yourself, you will submerge in the experience instead of observing with your mind. Once you have a good idea of one or two of these aspects, you could already consider it a very successful first experience. If you are really there with an open heart, it probably will only come naturally to you to thank the tree for the exchange.
When it comes to an actual conversation, you should know that talking with trees isn’t done with actual words. It is your own spirit that speaks and receives.
I think this should be enough to get you started. I wish you many wonderful encounters, insights and new friendships!