Learning To Gaze



1)    Sit easily in a relaxed, upright position.

2)    Take a couple of deep breaths.

3)    Relax your face and your eyes. Allow them to find an angle of view which is relaxed and comfortable – a slightly downwards gaze is usually good.

4)    Put your attention on your vision, but do not focus your eyes on anything specific. Allow them simply to gaze in a relaxed manner, taking in whatever can be seen.
You may find you have a tendency to focus on something in particular, if so, just relax your sight once more or take your awareness to the edges of your area of vision (without moving the eyes at all). This usually helps to regain a relaxed, open sight.

5)    If you feel restless or unsettled give yourself something else to rest your attention upon.
Keeping your eyes relaxed, turn the attention to whatever you are hearing. See if you can relax your hearing in the same way as your vision – not distinguishing individual sounds or identifying them, but listening to all sounds that are happening simultaneously. (It is easy to forget that our hearing is as selective as our sight – recording the sounds in the room we are in clearly demonstrates how we habitually ignore many of the sounds around us that the machine cannot block out).
Alternatively, put your attention on the breath. There are various ways of doing this.
One of the easiest is simply to notice that, whilst breathing gently through a slightly opened mouth, the cool inbreath can be felt as it passes over the palette at the back of the mouth, whilst on the outbreath the warmed air cannot be felt at all.
Just a light attention on this phenomenon is enough to quieten the mind. Restlessness itself can be relaxed into.
Avoid the idea that physical, mental or emotional stillness is required. What is required for gazing is simply not to get absorbed by any sensation, thought or experience. Suppressing energy only stirs up more energy. Energy subsides by itself in its own time if you just allow it to.

6)     So simply remain, allowing sense impressions, thoughts, images, feelings, to come and go whilst you continue gazing in a relaxed way.Initially you might find it easier to close the eyes for a moment or two to settle yourself down, but it is then a good idea to open the eyes again, as it is easier to remain without drifting away into sleepiness or dream states.There is no need to do this exercise for long periods of time.Two or three minutes on a regular basis gets us used to being comfortable in a state of calm without focus, without activity, without the need to do anything other than register our life.

Looking at a gently changing scene can be helpful to gazing. Watching the surface of flowing water, looking at the changing clouds in the sky, or the leaves on a tree, grasses undulating in the wind, all help to establish a calm, trance (entranced) state.  The word ‘trance’ has come to mean ‘unaware’, ‘fooled’, unfocused’, whereas trance is really what gazing is all about. The state of trance (of which there are an endless variety of degrees of experience), is simply the turning of our attention away from the conscious, surface, language-based rational processes of the mind, towards a more open, relaxed and curious state of awareness. Ordinary awareness is one window we choose to look through. Sleep is another, dream is another, imagination is another, trance is another. All these states are natural to the human being and all are effortless to achieve. Once you have had a little experience with gazing you will appreciate how easily we can slip from one state of awareness to another in a smooth continual process. Gazing simply helps us to watch the world (internal and external), in a more neutral manner. We become less an individual experiencing and judging events (interpreting patterns), and more simply a location in time and space on the universal field witnessing local events. This sublimation, or turning away from individual judgemental thought is essential if we are to access tree spirit consciousness in useful ways. Gazing exercises help us to broaden out our experience. We become an experience happening, rather than someone having an experience.

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On Silence

Tree Consciousness – on Silence.

Attaining a degree of silence is essential to any work with trees and tree spirits, ( in fact, with any work on subtle and meditative levels).

Silence, though, is not a reduction, not a shutting down or shutting out, not a restriction of thought, nor of the senses, the actions or the passions.

Silence is an opening out in order to include what appears not to be sound, what appears not to be self, what appears not to be sensation.

Silence happens with inclusiveness of what is not perceived. Thoughts don’t stop, feelings don’t stop, nothing changes. Except there is an addition in the self-awareness that all is occurring within a field existing beyond any object or percept.

We habitually seek out things, objects, names, identifiers. These are all in the foreground. Silence occurs when we also notice the background, the field within which our percepts reside.

When we stand in front of a tree, we need to see the tree behind the tree, the tree between the tree, the tree and the non-tree.

When we stand in front of the mind, we need to see the mind behind the mind, the mind between the mind, the mind that is the non-mind.

What is the non-tree? What is the non-mind? They are the silence that arises when we pay attention to what is not there, as well as to what is perceived as there.

Most, if not all, of the Tree Teacher Techniques in Tree Spirit Healing are ways to bring this silence to our awareness, either directly or indirectly. The next few posts will describe some of them. Beginning with Gazing.


Energy Generators

Imagine a tree beginning as a seedling.

It starts to accumulate energy and begins to transmute the elements of light, water and earth.

It accumulates power within its structure.

As it grows more energy, power, information, consciousness is concentrated and can stay stable here for many hundreds of years.

These are stable energy fields within an ever-changing environment.

Slowly, as the tree eventually ages and dies, it releases that accumulated energy slowly back into the earth where it can be accessed again.

Visualise this process as if each tree were a  point of light or warmth.

Look down on the landscape alive with stable energy.

Small points growing bright over the centuries, spreading the light of energy into their surroundings, holding steady and then gradually becoming more diffuse and fading as other lights begin to glow bright.

Know that nothing else in this world can infuse the world with this light.

Everything relies on this continual dance for its survival and sustenance.

These are the power stations that need to be maintained.

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A Tube Of Light

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Tube Of Light

A tree is a tube of spirit

Through which the energies of the world

Can move.

Being in the presence of a tree and its spirit

We can feel the movement of this energy again.

Our edges soften, our roots spread deeper,

Our ‘but…’ awareness quietens down

And we become happier to let go

And breathe life through our own tube –

The tube of our body,

Of our personal history,

Of our awareness.

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Mimosa (Silver Wattle)


“ Synaptic elegance

radiant suns

interstices of light.”

interstices of light

light arcing

synaptic elegance

synaptic elegance

million suns

interstices of light



radiant suns

arcs of light

million stars

limitless flow.

In the cold winter days of the Northern hemisphere nothing is so delightfully surprising as the fragrant clouds of yellow spheres that burst out from the delicate foliage of the mimosa. Originally from the temperate zones of Tasmania and Southern Australia, the wattles, or mimosas, have been planted wherever they can escape the harshest of winter winds and frosts. They are a common street tree in the Mediterranean area and they flourish in sheltered areas of southern Britain. They have a light wood and very rapid growth.


Breathe in : through the fingertips and the insides of the thighs to the spinal column.

Breathe out:  up the spinal coumn and into all the sinuses, chambers and cavities of the head.

mimosa sky

Mimosa (Silver Wattle) : sensuality, internal awareness, intuition, expression, peace.

mimosa clear

cleft silver

ROWAN : STAR AND STONE (a visualisation meditation)

You are sitting on a large rock

overlooking a landscape of rolling hills

and deep, hidden valleys.

The sun has just gone down,

the sky is turning a fragile turquoise blue.

Soon the stars will become visible in the deep skies

above you.

The sun’s heat can still be felt through the rock

against which you comfortably sit.

Time passes and your body relaxes.

Your mind and emotions relax.

Your senses relax

and stretch out

to each horizon.

You become aware

of all the oncoming noises of night-time.

Behind where you sit,

amongst the crevices in the rock,

a rowan tree is growing.

It is not large,

because it has had to weather the seasons

in this exposed position.

But it is strong

and shaped by the elements

that it has learned to balance


Darkness has fallen.

The small sounds of the night

fill your senses.

Your body is comfortable and relaxed.

You feel its presence perfectly,

but you do not feel restricted by it in any way.

Your senses relax

and spread out into the landscape,

and up into the sky where the stars are appearing.

The rock, the tree, the night,

your still body,

all relax into one view.

Thoughts, feelings, sensations,

all come and go,

as do the sounds and breezes

of the night.

Sitting open, but unfocused,

alert, but relaxed.

A sense of presence

draws close to you.

Perhaps behind you,

or to the side,

to the front

or even inside you.

The spirit of rowan.

Within the globe of your awareness

is a place to meet and learn.

To perhaps receive initiation

into the heart of

rowan spirit energy.

The spirit focuses its awareness upon you.

“Ay noo ay.

“Establish Silence.

“Establish a point of attention in the Silence.

“Allow the flow of energy tides to move through you.

“Shape the tides and read them.

“Ay noo ay. Ay noo ay.”

Stay with the flow of life.

Pay attention

to what happens

and what fails to happen.

The tree, your spine,

your body, the rock.

Your senses, the night.

Your awareness,

spirit awareness,

the world watching.


when you return.

Stay awhile

and remember.




Trees are our ancestors, they are our progenitors. Trees are the creators and the maintainers of our reality. These may sound like metaphysical or even metaphorical statements such as poets might use, but in truth (and ‘truth’ derives from the same Anglo-Saxon word as ‘tree’), they are undeniable and biological fact. The great forests of the Carboniferous period 300 million years ago not only laid down the coal that has fuelled the scientific explorations of the last two hundred years, but also stabilised and fertilised the planet with organic topsoil, regulated the oxygen levels of the atmosphere and established climatic weather patterns. Today trees are still the only ‘mechanisms’ that are able to reduce the extremes of weather and recycle minerals, gases and water into re-usable forms. No human device can even provide one of the functions of a tree, and our attempts to replicate, for example, the fertilisation of the soil with chemicals, are pathetic, clumsy, ineffectual and ultimately poisonous to the land.

These reasons alone should be enough to encourage and maintain our appreciation of the importance of trees. That, and the fact that wood has sustained human technologies for millennia. But our ancestors were not only skilled in using trees for making things or creating medicines from their parts, they also felt the numinous power, the spiritual quality, the sentient awareness of trees. Except for those peoples living within the Arctic Circle where no trees could grow and wood itself was an exotic flotsam, all peoples have held trees to be powerful spiritual beings, and many have modelled their concepts of the universe on the form of the tree (for example, an almost identical cosmography can be found amongst the peoples of the Amazon jungle and the Norse peoples of North-West Europe: the universe as a tree of many levels surrounded by a circular ocean bordered by a giant serpent). Spiritual teachers of many traditions have been shown acquiring wisdom, power and enlightenment from their contact with trees. The Buddha finally gained enlightenment sitting under a bo tree; Odin perceived the universal energies as runes as he was hanging upon the World Tree; Christ saved the world by hanging on the cross of wood and so on.

The tree is a symbol of the many levels of the Universe and is used in metaphorical or actual ways by the shaman to travel to different spirit worlds. Trees are central to shamanic and healing rituals. In Nepal a banana tree acts as a focus for all spiritual procedures. In North America the focus for the sundance of the Sioux nations is the tree upon which the dancers are tied by hooks. Symbolic trees, as posts or poles, are vital elements in Australian aboriginal, shamanic ritual, as they are in Siberia. It also seems likely that the ‘biles’ or sacred trees of the Celtic peoples were moveable, decorated trees (that in typically Celtic fashion were stolen, reclaimed, destroyed by rival tribal groups in a happy melee of spiritual and political one-up-manship). There is the Irmansul, the central tree-pillar of the Anglo-Saxon hall and temple. And not forgetting the enigmatic woodhenges scattered across the countryside, the late-lamented Seahenge of Norfolk, the Classical temple modelled upon wooden originals, the forests of stone in Gothic cathedrals shaped to carefully replicate the natural sacred groves of the people before stone cities took over (‘civilised’) the world.

The spiritual strength of trees has not diminished nor disappeared. Their presence in any landscape is as vital and as necessary as ever. Their ability to be our profoundest teachers is as strong as ever.  But like all great teachers, they will not make themselves known nor will offer healing without being asked. So how can we come again into the presence of trees to learn and be healed? Techniques and processes, whatever their source, are principally methods to allow the mind to acquiesce to new ideas and new perceptions, to step out of the way of the inevitable ‘Yes, buts..’, to allow novel experiences to be registered by our awareness. In this way rules, methods and traditions are very useful, often essential, but like all shamanic-based technologies, ritual and form is less important than having a truly open heart. All the skilful rituals, prayers, chants, no matter from how long a tradition, how ‘authentic’ a source, will do little good to someone whose heart is not caught up in the desire to connect with the reality. Emotional, heartfelt passion is a universally understood language that formal techniques only really serve to focus and enhance.

When you begin to notice trees, then trees begin to notice you. The only technology needed to meet the spirit consciousness of trees is that within the human body. Noticing what the senses are telling you, what the body is feeling, how emotions and thoughts shift in the presence of different types of trees – all the non-physical data labelled as ‘imagination’, ‘daydreaming’ – once our attention is given to them will reveal a wealth of information and surprising communications.

Why should we consider ‘talking to trees’? The nature of trees is to stand still, to hold firm, to maintain balance, to bring equilibrium to where they are. No tree could remain for five, six, one thousand years, in the same place without being able to balance all the variable factors of time and season. This equilibrium spreads outwards from the physical presence of the tree because its awareness is not limited – it encompasses all the energies of the universe. Now this is no different in the human being, except that humans have largely forgotten that sense of connection. We still remain connected (we are in the universe, so how can we not be connected?), yet there are many levels of separation, isolation, fractures of energy and belief that mask our real state and cause us many different types of suffering. Disease and illness, (as obvious manifestations on a physical level of this inability to repair our own energy fractures), are simply the result of a lack of the appropriate spiritual nutrition – the energy of wholeness.

In theory, any tree can bring the necessary harmony into us. In reality, we have energetic preferences that respond better to some ‘tastes’ of wholeness than to others. All trees hold all energies in harmonious equilibrium, but each species manifests that harmony in different ways. A tree’s habit and form demonstrates in physical terms the way it deals with and expresses energy. The character they display is a clue and an expression of their means to manifest wholeness. An oak, for example, ‘feels’ very different to a sycamore, even when the trees are of comparable size and mass. This difference is our recognition, at deep levels of the mind and body, of the energy signature of that tree spirit.

Our own personal work over the last decade has been to work with tree spirit energies and to explore these patterns, these expressions, using many different processes and techniques, often given to us by the tree spirits themselves, or modified from shamanic tradition. Waking up into a world where everything is experienced as conscious and present is the best medicine for the malaise of urban humanity – it is the surest way to end our spiritual isolation from the sentient world.

Bay Tree Words

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“If you wonder whether the thoughts you are having are at all the influence of the tree in front of you, or simply your own thoughts, then consider this: Why do you consider that your thoughts at any other time belong to you?

Why not accept the possibility that your mind is like a radio or a mirror – just reflecting those signals, taking up the images that are within your vicinity.

Then the flavour of the thoughts can be recognised as significant. There is awareness of difference, and in this way thought becomes a sense like seeing, hearing or feeling.

A thought is like a sound ; neither right nor wrong, accurate or inaccurate. Only your degree of awareness or lack of awareness gives the experience meaning or significance. “





Advice from the Lime Grove.

It is important when working with trees and tree spirits that knowledge is not important.

What is important is: knowing how to listen to silence, how to be quiet and listen.

All processes and techniques will only be effective to the degree by which they lead the person to a state of silent receptivity.

If you feel ignorant or clumsy in front of a tree, just relax and listen.

No ‘doing things’ in a certain way, nor following this or that tradition, will create a useful link if there is no silence.

Trees communicate by shaping silence. Listen to the shape of silence. Sometimes it will shape into ideas and words, sometimes feelings, sometimes none of these things. Silence is potential. Knowledge already limits itself by making boundaries and definitions.

Trees do not come from this or that tradition, with this or that knowledge. There is not a hierarchy made up of those who know more and those who know less. There is no intellectual one-upmanship, elitism or doubt. Being a tree is sufficient.

If you just become a human being, that is enough. Silence shared is a flow of union. Wisdom filters down from silence, gradually taking form, translating into words and ideas.

But the words are not wisdom – simply the effects of wisdom upon the thinking mind. They show the touch of wisdom but not necessarily that wisdom is still in residence.

Only by revisiting silence and the shaping silence of trees can wisdom be encouraged to accumulate and become clear.

Naked emptiness with no edges.

Simple being with no motive.

Open mind with no thought.

Standing in front of a tree that is standing in front of a human.

Both are silent above the noise.

Nothing else is needed.

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Mirror Body

Mirror Body  – Duel Nature

The tree’s experience is very different from most other life-forms on earth. It exists simultaneously in two different environments. The root experience is completely different from the branch experience. The consciousness of root/earth and branch/air can be seen as a variation of unconscious or subconscious root and conscious awareness of the branch. If one were to contact the energy of the ‘root’ it would probably be a different form of energy and experience to ‘branch’. So there may be at least these levels of being or personality or character: firstly the physical body in its entirety; secondly, the root as an inward-looking, stable unconscious; thirdly, the branch as an outward-looking, reaching, reactive conscious.

To approach the experience of this duel aspect of the tree consciousness, try the following:

Stand or sit and become aware of your body’s weight.

Take your attention to the bottom of the feet.

Let your awareness sink below your feet as a mirror image of yourself as it were, attached to your feet.

Extend your awareness so that it can simultaneously hold both your body and the mirror body images at the same time. This may initially be vague or disorienting.

Take your attention to specific parts of the body. Start with the soles of the feet – in physical, then in mirror body; the knees; the hips; the navel; the solar plexus; the hands; the shoulders; the top of the head.

Once you are more used to this swapping of focus, see if you can maintain simultaneous awareness in reflected spots, and then return to an overall view of yourself as both bodies.

When the exercise is completed, dissolve the image and spend a moment getting re-acquainted with the physical body.

(from”Tree: Essence, Spirit, Teacher”  p.49- 50)