How well do you know a tree? We see trees every day, maybe as we look out our window, or walk to our car, or even when we walk in the woods, but do we really see them? The other day I tried this practice I found in the book, Awake in the Wild by Mark Coleman, that encourages you to use a beginner mind, to take information in as if its the first time you’ve encountered it. So following the book’s directions, I went and found a tree in my backyard, a nice tall oak, one that I see almost every day. First I looked very closely at the roots, the bark and the canopy. I noticed the variety of moss and lichen on the bark, how the trunk wasn’t just brown (as my quick to judge mind had assumed) it was instead a mixture of gray’s and greens, up close the bark wasn’t smooth but had deep grooves, and then I noticed how very straight and tall the tree was and how far away the canopy was. I ran my fingers along the rough and smooth parts of the tree, leaned in to smell it, and I listened to the small movement of air running over the leaves and branches. I felt the strength of the tree and gratitude for its ability to provide shade to our house. I used my senses to really get to know this tree while at the same time slowing everything down, so that was the only thing I was focusing on. A wonderful exercise in being in the moment while also interacting with nature.
I encourage you to try this exercise. Take 5 minutes out of your day and get to know a tree that you see or pass by everyday.