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The Heartbeat of Trees

Walking through the forest this weekend and seeing the bare trees offers such a vastly different perspective. In the summer, the woods are dense with vegetation and every shade of green. Now there is an openness to the woods that seems even more inviting to me. A landscape of browns and whites that stretches far beyond the path.

I thought of these trees slowing down for the winter and it brought to mind the idea of their "heartbeat". This idea is discussed in "The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing Our Ancient Bonds with Forests and Nature" by Peter Wohlleben.

What a beautiful idea - a tree's heartbeat. Peter shares that scientists have measured the nearly imperceptible expansion and contraction of the trunk of trees. It was something like 0.002 inches of expansion and then contracting back again over several hours. Studies have also found that trees can lower their branches a few inches and raise them again every several hours.

These actions are thought to be the tree pumping water up to its crown. I love that there is so much complexity that we cannot see and still don't fully understand. In "Braiding Sweetgrass" by Robin Wall Kimmerer, she shares that we are like the little brother to nature - here to learn. And there is still so much for us to learn from nature.

While I have a long way to go in learning the scientific information (retaining that information is not my strength), what I do know is how I feel when I am in the forest. I know there is so much happening on a chemical and subconscious level, but I don't need to know all of those details. I can feel them. And the more that I practice awareness, the more deeply and easily I feel them. I leave after time spent in the woods feeling better. I'm more grounded. I breathe more deeply. I notice more, and I feel much more relaxed.

I invite you to find a tree and spend some time with it. One of the best practices I learned for finding calm and comfort is to sit with your back against a tree. Once again, there are many things happening on a chemical and subconscious level when you do this, but all you need to do is to take a few deep breaths to settle in and just be. Be present in the moment and notice what you feel physically and emotionally. Feel the support of the tree against your back, the earth and the roots holding you from below, and the branches sheltering you from above. Feel into this tree and notice if you can not only sense its energy, but see if you can consciously share yours as well.

Please feel free to share any experiences that you have had with trees, either in your youth or as an adult. Trees can hold very special places in our lives.


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