April 2017 | The Trees and I

Recently I had a remarkable experience in a grove of holly trees on the south end of the blue ridge parkway. Iset out on a hike with my dog Jade on a trail I frequently walked with her. I always felt there was something special and comforting about the trees there that kept drawing me back.

The fresh aroma overwhelmed me as I parked my car and entered the deep woods; the feelings of love and comfort were unmistakable. I felt like a baby being held and rocked. I felt myself smiling bigger and walking with more confidence. As I basked in this envelopment of nature's medicine I could feel energy move through my heart center from front to back.  With deeper curiosity, I stopped to touch the tree's shiny inviting leaves, and the feelings intensified. I felt energy move down the inside of my arms: In Chinese Medicine this is considered the heart channel/meridian. Now it was getting very interesting. I had just come off an intense few days of teaching and felt kind of wrung out; that seemed to change quickly on this hike.

There is a startling vividness in the moment when something internal happens that transforms my intellectual understanding into a felt experience. The form and physiology of the holly tree are vastly different from my own, but we share a number of life processes. For instance, the cells of my own body and the cells of the trees both carry out respiration and synthesize proteins. These processes are basically the same in me and in the trees.

How, despite our obvious differences, had the trees and I come to share so much more? At some point my mind stopped talking to itself, and for a few long moments and most of the remaining hike I was left with a wordless understanding that was of a different kind than the understanding born of intellect.  Essential truths cannot be grasped with the mind. For me they occur through deep feeling that flows through my spirit, and then I make sense of it through mind and body. I became a child again, full of wonder and excitement, with a sense of lightness and freedom. I felt so loved.

After returning home and doing some research I found out that holly is regarded as the most universally applicable of plant essences to heal the inner being and to stimulate the basic loving nature of the human soul: "Holly holds a central position among the Bach Flower Remedies, because it embodies love - the highest energy quality through which we all live, and which is our greatest healing power."

There's nothing mystical about it-- yet there is everything mystical about it.  Nature heals. It's up to us how close we choose to be with it.

Our human society and busy lives have left many of us alienated from nature, observing “it” from a distance as an amorphous “other,” at best to be analyzed and described rather than embraced, loved, and cherished as an intimate extension of ourselves. Time in nature can be the perfect antidote to complicated and noisy lives. The Earth provides us with an enormously extended family that we can visit any time we wish, an inexhaustible world of friends (of all shapes and sizes) that, in a sense, are wondering where we've been. They are ready and waiting to receive our recognition, love and respect so they can, in turn, offer their deep love. Perhaps now is the time to come into the open and say hello to all your brothers and sisters. Now is the time to invite them into your inner circle and into your heart. You have been gone so long — now is the time to return home.

This month I offer you a free 11 minute gentle yoga and meditation class (click on link below) to help you feel more connected to your spirit. When we feel a deeper connection with ourselves we can more easily and effortlessly feel it with the whole web of life, and through living things with the whole of the cosmos.