Breath­ing with the trees

Trees ab­sorb car­bon and re­lease oxy­gen; hu­mans breathe in oxy­gen and re­lease car­bon. Thus, in sim­ple terms, this can be viewed as a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship. This ex­er­cise can be done any­where there is a tree. 1 Stand in front of the tree, close your eyes a

Living Now - - Living With Spirit -

with the earth and the nat­u­ral world, we go into na­ture tak­ing our idea of sep­a­rate­ness with us. So a trip into the ‘bush’ can be a nice enough out­ing and we may feel a lit­tle bet­ter tem­po­rar­ily but we still feel sep­a­rate. Of­ten if we try feel­ing a part of na­ture it sim­ply seems an in­tel­lec­tual con­cept or that we are forc­ing an ex­pe­ri­ence that’s not real. Our lives are so filled with sto­ries of sep­a­ra­tion pro­duc­ing a des­per­a­tion to fill up the empti­ness with con­sump­tion, stuff, ad­dic­tions and peo­ple that em­body­ing true na­ture con­nec­tion eludes us.

Such sto­ries of sep­a­ra­tion have a huge cost. On a per­sonal level it can lead to an empti­ness in the soul and a deep hunger that we try to fill in all sorts of ways that make it worse. On a com­mu­nity level we are iso­lated, find­ing it hard to find ful­fil­ment re­lat­ing with oth­ers. On a global level, a lifethreat­en­ing sep­a­ra­tion has de­vel­oped where we can’t see na­ture’s needs sym­bi­ot­i­cally linked to our own – as cli­mate change, species ex­tinc­tion and pol­lu­tion proves.

I am part of the wind and the en­er­gies. I hear the earth mur­mur­ing and breath­ing. I breathe with it – mighty time­less breaths with all life and all time and space.

The crocodile snaps, the wa­ter bird struts, the ea­gle screams and dives. The won­der of na­ture breaks through a tur­tle shell with baby cry­ing life, the wal­laby blends softly into paint­ings carved by wind.

Many shamans or medicine peo­ple of an­cient cul­tures un­der­stood that we have to ‘get out of our own way’ to heal, ex­pe­ri­ence or un­der­stand some­thing which our lim­ited minds can’t grasp or al­low to oc­cur ‘out of our own con­trol’, but of­ten we are so con­di­tioned to be in con­trol that let­ting go and get­ting out of our own way long enough to al­low real con­nec­tion and heal­ing to oc­cur may re­quire a big in­cen­tive or even cri­sis. ‘Su­san’ strug­gled with a chronic de­bil­i­tat­ing med­i­cal con­di­tion for years un­til she was told that parts of her in­ter­nal anatomy and sev­eral or­gans would need to be re­moved to save her. With lit­tle to lose she threw her­self to the mercy of the earth. “I went to live in the for­est and re-found the rhythms that I had never known, yet some­where were al­ready in me. I opened my­self to the earth, trees, plants, an­i­mals, sea­sons, moon and my emo­tions and let na­ture know ev­ery­thing. Ev­ery­thing! I am not hold­ing back on any­thing as I heal.” She pauses, “and I am now heal­ing.”

Now we all have sim­i­lar in­cen­tives even if we don’t di­rectly feel it, and more of us are feel­ing some­thing is ter­ri­bly wrong as our lives fall fur­ther into con­fu­sion and iso­la­tion and the earth teeters on a cri­sis of be­ing un­able to sup­port life. Rad­i­cal and ur­gent in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal heal­ing needs to take place, and if we take the view that our bod­ies are part of the earth then, if we heal, we heal the earth.

Ac­tive heal­ing of the earth can take many forms in­clud­ing di­rect ac­tion, protest, prayer, energy work and re­gen­er­a­tion.

The ba­sic prin­ci­ple that I have found is that we need to let go of the cul­tural con­di­tion­ing of see­ing na­ture as sep­a­rate. It is part of us and we are part of it.

Mary’s psy­chi­a­trist at the hos­pi­tal was sur­prised that she re­cov­ered with­out in­ter­ven­tion in­clud­ing shock treat­ment or drugs. Per­haps it is time to fol­low a more ex­panded view of heal­ing and whole­ness that can in­volve the earth – and we be­come in­volved with her. Next time you go out­side, I in­vite you to take the op­por­tu­nity to breathe with the land, to imag­ine that ev­ery­thing is con­nected. To imag­ine that you can heal the earth in some way and that it can heal you. The change that the world needs… be­gins with us. n

Phoenix Ar­rien has a deep in­ter­est in in­dige­nous heal­ing and cul­ture and feels for­tu­nate to have sat, and still sits, at the feet of sev­eral el­ders who have been gen­er­ous with their shar­ing and teach­ings. She is a shamanic healer, an ex­pe­ri­enced fa­cil­i­ta­tor of heal­ing and trans­for­ma­tion work­shops and deep ecol­ogy and heal­ing ecol­ogy re­treats.

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