Some days it doesn’t take much to restore myself to balance, just a quiet walk amongst the trees. There is medicine in their dappled light. There’s a kind of therapy to the enigmatic tree shadows and soft sunlight dancing together on my skin.
It doesn’t take much to stand beneath their tender creaking branches and to close my eyes while they breathe healing over me. I forget the curative potential of simple things like this when I’m swept up by life’s complex currents, lost in the ever present pattern of busyness or bogged down by expectations, demands and the pressure to survive. But it doesn’t take much to step aside from it all for a moment, to feel the vibrant earth under my feet and let the scents of damp soil and rain soaked trees seep into my pores.
Every day, Mother Earth reminds me that healing doesn’t always have to be hard. It can be as easy as taking the time. It can be as simple as making the space. It can be as effortless as being open, showing up and allowing something beyond myself to pour a restorative balm into my soul. It can be as crazy, yet uncomplicated and peaceful, as walking slowly between ancient trees – standing people, wisdom keepers and great restorers of the burdened heart – and just breathing in the unassuming medicine of their enchanting splays of dappled light.
When you find yourself in a sticky moment, overwhelmed by life’s challenged, would you be willing to go into their presence and rest your heart in their midst? Just for a little while. A small dose of shinrin yoku may be just the thing to guide you back home to the peace of your inner essence.
I took midday break with my husband and we went walking at one of our favourite spots today. The weather was temperamental, hot and sunny in parts, but mostly overcast – the kind of undecided weather that precedes the African afternoon thundershowers. Though I usually walk with my hiking shoes, today I wore my ‘fairy shoes’. They are cute pointy-toed gold and black satin flats that make my feet look dainty and me feel like a fairy waltzing through the fields. Silly, I know, but I like the way I feel in them.
We took a different path today, one that diverges away from the grandmother quaking aspen that I love to climb and meditate in. All around, the grass was long and lush, a consequence of the plentiful rains we’ve been having. I love the eerie air that unkempt fields of tall grass and wild flowers create. It makes me feel untamed and free too and the Goddess is near too.
On the water’s edge of this unfamiliar path, I met a great mature tree whose name I do not know. I stopped a while, requesting to enter her space and placed my hand on her bark, honouring and breathing with her for a few moments. Inhaling and exhaling while consciously sharing my breath with a tree is simple yet precious process that connects me deeply with my inner essence and the sacred thread of light woven through all life. It leaves me humbled every time and my heart full with the love that Nature seems to share so willingly, especially on those low days when melancholic feelings set in. Tree breathing is such a basic yet uplifting form of meditation. If you haven’t done so already, then please do give it a go. Below are some brief guidelines on how to go about it:
How to do a Tree Breathing Meditation:
- Find a tree in your garden or a nature space to connect with (always ask permission first).
- Sit on the ground near the tree, or stand next to the tree and place your hand on its trunk.
- Take a deep breath in. As you do, give thanks to the tree for the life giving gift of air. Give thanks for the breath that fills your lungs and feel your life force expand.
- When you exhale, offer you breathe back to the tree and to Mother Earth.
- Honour the tree and Mother Earth for this sacred connection.
- Inhale and then exhale again, repeating the process of focused attention. Say “I thank you for this breath” each time you breathe in, and “I offer you my breath” each time you breathe out.
- Bring your attention to the fact that all life is connected in Oneness and we are all connected through breath. You are part of this beautiful network of sacred mystery.