I recently read an article about research evidence demonstrating that practicing mindfulness in nature decreases stress and cancer. I believe it.
With this in mind, I was taking a stroll down my pebble road, past our enormous tree in the front yard. My daughter was strapped to me in the Ergo carrier and she drifted into sleep. This is where I thought up the following contemplative practice…Take any pieces of it you like, and practice it as you like.
Mindfulness Practice with a Tree
Walk outside and let yourself wander for a bit with no predetermined direction. Observe the scene around you, taking time to let your gaze linger on various objects, as you let your mind and thoughts slow and dissipate. Take a moment to watch your breath, the rise and fall of your belly and feel the relaxation of your neck, arms, and shoulders.
Let yourself gravitate towards a tree. When you find yourself next to it, observe and feel the texture of the bark and leaves. Go slow and let your attention linger. When thoughts arise, bring your attention back to observing texture and shape, feeling texture (smooth, rough, warm, cold etc), hearing wind or birds, or planes, noticing any smell around you.
Next, keep your gaze focused on the tree and picture in your mind the roots that dig deep into the earth and spread underground. Contemplate the strength and stability of this tree, rooted in the earth, bringing in water and nutrients from the soil to grow bigger, stronger, and wider with limbs and leaves. This tree needs the soil and water to grow big, strong, and stable.
Move your gaze up the tree and notice the leaves and branches. Contemplate how the sun shines on the leaves and helps it grow. The limbs reach higher and wider, branching out to convert Co2 into O2 for humans and animals to breath. You need this tree, and the tree needs you.
Contemplate the strength that you can borrow from this tree and any negativity that it can absorb and release from you. Think about the solidness of the tree and its roots, and then transfer these thoughts to your own body. Imagine roots from your feet extending into the earth, giving you strength and stability. Feel the weight of your own body and its solidness.
Play with the idea your separateness from this tree, each solid, separate objects. yet also contemplate your connection, interdependence, and lack of separation from a macro view. How from far away, up in space, with a naked eye; there would be no way to tell the separateness of your molecules and solid form from the tree’s molecules and separate form.
Think about breathing in this clean oxygen emitting from the tree and exhaling Co2 for the tree to eat. Observe your body and mind and breath naturally lengthen, calm, and relax. Contemplate and express your gratitude to this tree for supplying you oxygen to breath.
Next, look for the tree’s message of thanks to you; for you being alive to give it COs to breath. Allow yourself to feel the necessity of you to keep life on earth in balance and motion.
Observe, contemplate, observe, contemplate- let your attention and thoughts move freely.
And when you are done, enjoy any sense of peace, connection, or stability you may feel. Tell someone about it.