I read about this man who can tell by listening, what kind of tree he is next to. I am not yet sure if my ears can be that supple. But I've been training my hands to listen long enough to the tissue of a human being, that I might be able to detect the quality of a tree if I pratice long enough. I think it's a worthy goal.
Years ago I took tree showers with a friend. Paul. We would leave the meditation center where we both were doing long term service, and find some trees, not that numerous in the english country side I must sadly add. But I remember a particular Yew by an old stone chapel, that seemed to rain it's presence upon our delicately tuned nervous systems. We ran under that Yew, and others, giddy from the glimmer that filled the space around them. Returning back to the center, the silence, the cushion, the practice of sitting, I remember being filled with an expansive lightness and freshness.
Last night I placed my hands on a large Oak - rare in these parts of the world - but already massive at 300 years. How do I explain what I felt. A tingle that erupts into a shimmer, fills me internally, as if the tree connects with a running current inside of me. It feels like my depleted nervous system gets a charge, my internal space becomes cleansed. What did not flow, now does.
Today I went to a Spruce. I noticed myself a little hesitant. How do I enter the presence of another? Placing my hands on their bark, the difference between the oak's expansiveness and the spruce's quiet depth was notable. The Spruce seemed to pull me in toward the center, the color felt deeper, I became still. I thought about what I knew about the Spruce, how it is a shadow tree, how slowly it grows. Again as I was leaving the tree, I felt hesitant. How do I part? I felt clumsy, as if I didn't quite know the manners of this new place. Do I bow, say thank you. How do I acknowledge this meeting with the other? When did I become so unpracticed in the ways of the woods? While living in the city and not connecting enough with the trees around me, I assume.
It is not words I hear - it is not about hearing at all. The information I receive is purely kinesthetic.
So this is the daily practice which revealed itself, as I arrived here in this place, surrounded by truly magnificent Oaks, Spruces, Birches, Rowans.
* Let me learn some of your ways as I yield my porous skin toward your bark, listening to your subtle pulse, noticing the color of the veil that surrounds me in your presence.
Unfasten my allegiance to my own single species.
Call my errant spirit back home to its senses.
In the forest, all is body.*