Meditation With Trees
by Cáit Branigan
Standing Ones, as they are known among certain tribes of North
America,have long held the adoration, fascination and awe of human
beings. From Egypt and Crete to our own land, Ireland, trees have been
a vital source of inspiration and protection.
The five sacred trees of Ireland, namely the Oak of Mugna, the
of Ross, the Bile Tortan, the Bile Daithí and the Craeb Uisneach were
the physical and spiritual manifestation of the profound wisdom of tree
life on the planet.
Not only are trees recognised for their
importance in ecological terms, but also, as folklore and mythology
testify, for being the dwelling place of gods and goddesses.
traditions testify to the existence of such myths - in Egypt the fig
was seen as a dwelling for the divine; in Britain and Ireland the Yew
and the Oak were revered, among others, for their wisdom and
Meditation is an important part of any spiritual
discipline and, in modern society, has been taken up by stress
management consultants as a deep means of relaxation. To enter into
stillness and reach a point of knowledge of oneself is not only hugely
beneficial to both body and spirit, but also helps us to tap into our
So where do the two meet, and why would we wish to meditate with trees?
with trees is on one level, a way of accessing the wisdom inherent in
trees, wisdom that exists in their biology, and in the ancient and
current contact with the land. It is a way of re-establishing the union
that exists between all living things,of accessing the web of life of
which we are a part.
Trees have been around longer than humans,
and like whales, have memories that stretch far back into the distant
past. Their view of time is different to humans as they live longer
lives in the main,
and are deeply in tune with the cyclical nature of the seasons which we have chosen to disregard for the past century or so.
provide us with a connection to all the levels of existence - their
roots reach deep into the earth and draw nourishment from
the soil; their trunk stands strong and tall in the world around, unashamedly; their branches reach far above to the air, which
provides clarity and the breath of life.
a physical level, being around trees and breathing around trees is of
huge benefit. They cleanse the air and their strong physical presence
gives us a sense of security and protection. They provide us with food,
in the form of fruit; and their bark,leaves and flowers have been used
in herbal and aromatherapy remedies for centuries.
So how do we meditate with trees?
are various methods available to people to help them to meditate with
trees. Books fill shelves in shops around the world which explain at
great length our connection to tree and plant life and how to
consciously establish that connection. Below are some simple techniques
that are easy to remember, yet can help people to establish deep and
lasting relationships with trees. It is a good idea to prepare yourself
before you head out to the park/woods to make sure that you have
everything you need: inother words, make sure you have warm clothing
(if it is not Summer), rain-gear, ground mat in case the earth is wet.
and anything else which you desire to have with you. There is no need
to bring the kitchen sink!! Just enough to make sure that you are
Breathing & Visualisation
This meditation was given to me during a shamanic journey to the spirit of trees. It is very simple and focuses on both the body
and the mind.
by finding a comfortable sitting position with your back against a
tree. When you are ready, begin to consciously relax your muscles,
maybe by mentally noting the different parts of your body and 'telling
them' to relax.
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and let
tension slip away. Feel the air around you. Feel the tree at your back.
Feel the earth beneath you. Take another deep breath. Feel the safety
and protection of the tree, feel its life.
Now take nine deep
breaths. Slowly breath in and slowly breath out. With every breath you
take, feel yourself move further and further into the tree - through
the bark and right into the centre of the
reach this point notice how you feel being in the centre of this tree.
What if anything do you see there? What if anything do you hear? Stay
there for as long as feels comfortable.
Now begin to take nine deep breaths once again. With every breath feel
yourself move further out of the tree and deep into your own body. Concentrate on your feet and the earth beneath you.
you have taken the nine breaths, open your eyes. Look around you and
continue to breath. Take time to make sure you are fully back in your
in the previous meditation by relaxing your body and making sure you
are comfortable. Take time to breath to help your body release tension
and to cleanse your system.
Close your eyes. Focus your
attention on the roots of the tree beneath and around you. Feel how
they spread out into the earth, going deeper and deeper into the soil.
Feel your own connection to the earth, the gravity that keeps you
grounded. Focus on this for a while.
Now move your attention to
the trunk of the tree. Feel its strength and surety. Concentrate on
your own spine and how, like the trunk, it supports you and connects
you to both the earth and the sky. Now imagine that the two are as one
- that the trunk of the tree is part of you, supporting you in every
day life. Stay there and breath into that feeling.
When you feel
ready, begin to focus your attention on the branches of the tree which
spread far about you. Feel their freedom, how they sway in the breeze
and draw in the sunlight. Feel how they reach to the sky. Concentrate
on your mind and head. Feel how it reaches for enlightenment and
wisdom. Feel the freedom of the sky and the air. Breathe slowly and
remain focused on this for a while.
Now return your attention to the roots of the tree. Focus on being as
as they are. Once you are ready, begin to focus on your body and open
your eyes. Take time to ensure that you are fully back in your body
before you begin to move.
Tree meditation is a very simple yet
profound way of re-connecting to the earth. It is not necessary to live
in the country, there are plenty of trees in parks in the cities.
Ensure when you go to meditate
that you feel secure in the place where you are sitting.
You may wish to go with a friend. Either way, take time with yourself and with the trees. You are worth it and so are they.