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Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

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Size isn’t everything.

How big is a tree spirit?
Rather like a physicist looking at an elementary particle, time and space, the means we have to measure ‘things’ cannot be used.
Time and space are intimately connected to physicality. Indeed, time is only the relationship of different things in space.
As the spirit reality is outside of our experience of time and space, our measuring devices become unreliable.
Experiencing the energies of tree spirits can be a little like carefully examining an object but not knowing whether we are looking through a telescope at something very large or looking through a microscope at something very small.
Our attitudes to what we experience may well vary depending on what assumptions we make.
So qualities of size, questions of appearance, questions of relationship to others – of individuality, and so on – all ways of identifying things that we are familiar with using, become equivocal and changeable.
It will depend upon our state of awareness and our understanding of what we perceive.
It is not a matter of belief, though belief may affect our interpretation.
It is a matter of open contemplation.
Of floating upon our experiences, our sense impressions, our thoughts, without struggling to fit them into pre-existent boxes. Relax and float.
As soon as intellectual or emotional tensions creep in, like floating on the sea, we will sink beneath the surface unless we relax completely, remaining buoyed up by the silent consciousness and shared (understood) sentience of human and universe, you and tree, here and there, big and small.

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Listening to the song of the world that the trees hear.

Find a tree where you can rest comfortably for a while. The size is not important, though a large, mature tree is a little better to start with.

Settle down as close as you can get so that it is possible to relax comfortably. If you feel secure enough then close your eyes, if not relax your gaze and keep a relaxed focus at a comfortable distance.

Begin to relax your body and your breath. If you know the Tree Breath for that species you can begin with a few minutes of practice.

As your breath settles, place your awareness, not in your mind with its thoughts, but at your ears. Whenever your attention drifts inwards to listen to thoughts, send it out again to find focus upon your ears.

Relax your listening, hearing all the sounds around you all at once. (We habitually turn our attention between identifying one sound and then another.)

Now keep your awareness in your ears, simply allowing the one sound of the world to pass into your senses with all the different frequencies and silences knitted together.

Hold in your hearing all sounds, both nearby, inside your body and mind, and those that you hear from the far distance. It takes practice to relax enough to allow all sound to be perceived simultaneously, but this relaxed openness with alert awareness is the open quality of tree consciousness. It helps us to blend with the world and to begin to flow into greater awareness.

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This image is of the tree spirit key of elder, using the colours that express the energy manifestations of the tree.

ELDER

Calm, love, forgiveness, self-worth, transformation, waste-not, want-not, whole-hearted, harvest home.

Whole hearted
No waste
No want.

Whole-hearted
Weaving harvest
Heal all hurt.

Whole-hearted
All hurt healed
Harvest home.

Whole heart
All hurt healed
Harvest home.

In some books elder is not even considered to be a tree but a shrub. Like other small trees like hazel and lilac, it tends to form a multi-stemmed bushy shape, only occasionally becoming a single trunked tree. Elder thrives on nitrogen-rich soil. Wherever there is organic debris -rotting organic matter – elder can be found. This quality makes it a common sight around human habitations, and its key characteristic is the ability to transform what has been discarded or is unwanted, or even disdained.

One of the biggest lessons in life is that one being’s waste is another being’s food , one being’s food is another’s poison, one being’s good is another’s bad. Aggravation, sorrow, pain and hurt are all symptoms of the inability to transform powerful energies within our body. Healing requires the transformation and harmonisation of such factors.

The elder has always been recognised as one of the most beneficent of healing trees. Throughout the year it produces healing medicines and useful dyes. The flower-heads that open wide as dinner plates in early summer are soothing and healing for coughs, colds and infections and they bring down fevers by encouraging sweating. They also make delicious wine and, dipped in batter, make a delicious meal. When they ripen to bue-black berries they can be turned into jams or dried to supply a good source of Vitamin C throughout the winter months. Although the wood is very close-grained and can be used as a substitute for boxwood, elder has a large pithy core of spongy cells that can easily be hollowed out to form pipes, tubes, straws, peashooters an so on. The pungent, strong smelling foliage can be aggravating and emetic, but elder transforms this overpowering quality into the delicate blossoms and fruits of summer.

Breath:

Breathe in to the solar plexus and then up to the heart and lungs.
Breathe out through the arms and hands, legs and feet simultaneously.

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Tree: Roots and Branches.

This simple visualisation allows grounding and centring before then opening up awareness to more universal types of energy.

Begin by relaxing your body. Allow awareness to sink downwards to your contact with the ground.

Extend your awareness beyond the physical body to make searching roots that spread deeper and wider with each exhalation. Continue this process until you feel really secure and well-rooted.

Now with the intent to hold that sense of rootedness, focus on the top of your head. Feel the energy of the sun and the vast spaciousness of the universe gently drawing up your energy. Mould that expanding energy into the form of boughs and branches, growing in an ever-widening dome upwards and outwards.

Once you have a clear sense of these spreading branches, see if you can maintain in your awareness both the root system below your feet and the branches above your head. If it helps, you can visualise your body as the tree trunk holding in place and focusing the energy of root and branch.

When the imagery is comfortable and stable begin to sense and integrate the energies that each outgrowth of your awareness is receiving and releasing into its surroundings.

When it is time to stop, allow the imagery to fade and sit still to integrate the experience before resuming normal activity.

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Tree Roots Visualisation

A simple way to ground and centre your energies, reduce thought and mental activity and become connected to your surroundings:

Settle in your seat so you are comfortable. Have your feet uncrossed and firmly placed on the floor.

Take a few slow, deep breaths and allow yourself to relax further into your seat.

Lightly put your attention on your body. Feel its solidity and its weight. Become aware of the pull of gravity downwards and let your mind settle on the feel of that pull.

Now allow your awareness to flow downwards beyond your feet and begin to sense, see or feel that energy as roots growing and extending downwards into the earth. See them reaching out in a widening circle around you.

Feel those roots of energy as they search deeper and deeper, establishing you firmly and securely upon the surface of the planet.

Allow gravity and the magnetic attraction of the earth’s heart to draw your roots deeper and wider with each breath you breathe.

When you feel that you are secure and well-rooted, begin on your in-breath to draw sustaining energy back along your root-paths into your body.

Feel the nutritious and life-giving energy of the earth slowly fill the whole body as it travels upwards from the very root-tips of your earthed awareness.

Continue to draw the energy upwards with your in-breath. On the out-breath allow that root system to strengthen and spread deeper and further outwards from your place.

Remain in this pattern of feeling and growing for as long as you like.

When ready, slowly allow the images to fade. Become aware of your physical body, your surroundings. Take a few deep breaths. When you feel ready, slowly open your eyes. Take a while before resuming normal activity.

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(plane tree trunk)

Meditation Tree

All trees help us towards a meditative state. Tree awareness is always connected to the whole. Tree awareness exists in a cyclical or spiral time. Human awareness exists in a linearity of past – present – future. We think at this linear level: evaluating past memory or projecting into the future. The present doesn’t hold our attention in the same way. Perception of the present becomes memory or speculation by habit rather than of necessity.

Tree awareness is held in the present, so requires no thought process (or not like ours). When we contact a tree energy we absorb some quality of tree consciousness and so find it easier to release the habitual linearity of thought. This begins to establish a meditative state. (Each tree will have a different quality or ‘flavour’ depending upon how we interact with its energy.)

Tree awareness is concentric and 360 degrees. Individual awareness is the centre of a circle of energetic liveliness that also includes many other circles of awareness. A tree’s individual awareness is not experienced as separate from the circle around it, but as a denser focus of peculiar factors of view and form. The self (I) cannot have the same meaning where there is no spatial movement or change of view. As humans, we are always in a state of physically changing relationships with our environments. We have therefore to be constantly self-referring to know where we are and what we are doing. A tree exists in one place and has less differentiated parts (organs etc.) so there is not the same need to be self-conscious. More of the awareness can be directed outwards towards the circle’s circumference. It is an inclusive awareness rather than a human’s exclusive awareness. Entering into tree spirit awareness, we experience a change in metabolism – things slow down, the body relaxes, loses track of its position, sense of time changes, thoughts continue but do not distract us from an underlying, non-verbal vibration of energy, sometimes experienced as bliss or sound or light. Buddha knew what he was doing sitting under a tree – not just for shade, but for the connection to wholeness of life.

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(silver firs)

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(gorse flowers, now beginning to get a full spring polish on themselves)

A USEFUL PLACE

 

(A stance useful to bring to mind before all Tree Spirit Healing work)

 

1

Nothing in creation is isolated or alone. Every being is part of a seamless web of energy that flows, transmutes and modifies itself in the maintenance of dynamic balance.

 

Illness and disease arise when the systems of the body cannot locate the necessary information or energy for self-repair. Any method of healing simply helps the body to find what it requires for wellness.

 

Trees and other plants have always been our primary healers, and continue to be so today. They physically sustain us by balancing environmental factors (temperature, humidity, wind, the constituents of both the air and the earth), and their spiritual presence brings stability and equilibrium to all around them.

 

Trees, by their effortless balance, remind us of the calm spaciousness of our natural awareness, connected to the seamless flow of existence. Each tree species demonstrates a particular way of achieving balance so that, by linking to them in a very specific sequence a state of disorderliness, chaos and suffering can be alleviated within us.

 

2

Getting oneself into an appropriate frame of mind speeds the effectiveness of the healing and allows for clearer experiences. Becoming aware of our connection with the world, acknowledging that we cannot always do everything by our own efforts, allowing help to be offered and to be accepted, all soften up the brittle boundaries that are often put in place in an attempt to keep ourselves safe, but that really only isolate us further from a solution to our pains. Use those preliminary processes that feel most comfortable for you.

 

Take a moment to turn your attention to the breath. You do not need to change your breathing in any way – simply pay attention to the movement of air in and out of your lungs. This in itself will steady and calm both the body and the mind. If you find that there is some turbulence, open your mouth slightly and breathe through it. If you put your attention on the soft palette at the back of the mouth you will notice that, as you breathe in, the air feels cool there, but on the out-breath, there is no sensation. Simply stay with this experience for a moment or two until you feel calmer.

 

Imagine that you exist as a wave on an ocean of infinite waves, each unique and distinct from each other. Allow your attention to move away from the experience, sinking downwards towards the depths of the ocean. As you descend, your sense of self changes, expanding, becoming more aware of the unseen deep currents, and of other perspectives, other ways of being. You are still yourself, but more integrated with others, able to exchange information and energy easily. Stay at these deep levels until you feel calm and alert.

 

Take your attention to each of your senses in turn. Feel how your body is resting, where it is relaxed, where it is in tension. Adjust yourself so that you become more comfortable. As you breathe in, be aware of the scents and aromas around you, the temperature and feel of the air. Allow your eyes to relax, rest them where they are, just gazing at whatever you are looking at. Simply allow what you see to enter the eyes without the need to focus on anything in particular or to think about what is there. Now what sounds are you hearing? Open your hearing in the same way that you opened your sight. Simply let whatever sounds there are to register in your mind without focusing or dwelling on any of them. When you become aware of thoughts, treat them in exactly the same way – let them come and go on their own, simply keeping your awareness open and spacious.

 

3

The invitation.

 

Asking for help is acknowledging that no one is alone, that life flows from one being to another in an endless flow, that what is required is available when one knows where to look. So, open to ask for assistance from the tree spirits in some simple way. Use the feeling in your heart to simply call for help, or give a simple gesture like a bowing of the head or an opening out of the hands. Then wait for a moment or two before beginning the healing.

 

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(Japanese camellia)

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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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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.

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Mimosa (Silver Wattle)

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“ Synaptic elegance

radiant suns

interstices of light.”

interstices of light

light arcing

synaptic elegance

synaptic elegance

million suns

interstices of light

eloquence

radiance

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.

Breath.

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.

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