“Trees exhale for us so that we can inhale them to stay alive. Can we ever forget that? Let us love trees with every breath we take until we perish”― Munia Khan

We take both breathing and trees for granted. Yet without one the other could not survive.  It is a symbiotic relationship. Trees have the capacity to heal us. They provide us shade, oxygen, beauty. We are stewards of the earth’s trees and it is our duty to not only preserve them but to listen to the message trees have to teach.

Today’s Daily Practice is to honor both.  Trees. And breath.

Find a tree—preferably one that has been here on earth longer than you, or your parents, grandparents, or even your great grandparents; but a young tree works as well—and sit under it and listen to your breath.

Try to sit with the tree for at least ten minutes.

Meditate on either the above quote or your favorite one. Or meditate on something pertinent to your life that you want to examine, reflect upon, heal, or change. When I first started sitting and breathing with trees, I meditated on my favorite Gandhi quote–be the change you want to see in the world. As I continued later I meditated on learning how to live in the present. I had recently experience a stroke, which altered the reality of my world. I used this simple breathing with trees exercise to find my new normal, which is detailed in the article Finding Your New Normal. As you meditate and breathe with the tree take time to find the majesty in the tree and in its stoic grace. Find the message the tree has for you.

Listen to the message of the tree.

What type of tree is it? How old is it? Is it a saplings or an ancient giant? Perhaps even try to see if you can feel what it is like to be that tree. Notice the bark. How does it look? Feel? Is it rough or smooth? Does it feel sturdy or frail? Has it weathered storms? Is there damage from the elements. If so, notice how the tree repaired itself and find the message for you in that. Imagine yourself as that tree and with each deep meditative breath you inhale breathe in the fragrance, the strength, the majesty of tree. Which each exhale, breathe your toxins, fears, and stress out.

Breathe with the tree.

Inhale with your nose to the count of four. Hold your breath for twelve counts if you can or whatever is comfortable for you. Exhale to the count of eight. Try to do this for at least ten minutes. As you continue to do so, envision yourself becoming one with the tree. Imagine the story of that tree. It’s history, the storms is has endured, the birds that have nested in it, the healing rains that brought new flowers and growth. Then decipher the message which that particular tree has for you and examine how you can incorporate that message into your life. Finally, thank the tree for its presence, grace, and the lessons it taught you that day.

Fun fact—trees are said to communicate via their extensive root systems.  They communicate as a family.  Just as we do. Ecologist Suzanne Simard did her pioneering doctoral dissertation on the topic. There extensive communication network has a profound effect for not only trees, but our earth and all inhabitants of the earth. 

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