Is there a tree you walk by regularly? Maybe somewhere on your daily commute? You might have passed this tree by and ignored it hundreds of times in your life already.
The next time you are passing, intentionally slow down as you approach the tree, then stop for a few moments. Stop.
First, feel the contact between your feet and the earth. Connect with the sensations of the breath for a few moments. This isn’t complicated. Simply be aware of what it feels like to breath. You might repeat the phrase “breathing in, I know I’m breathing in”, “breathing out, I know I’m breathing out”. How often in your life are you “aware” of the breath in this way?
Now look closely at your chosen tree. Notice its shape. Notice the colours of the bark. Maybe when you look closely there are lots of different subtle shades? Are there any leaves on the tree? Maybe there are still one or two survivors? Maybe there are lots of interesting details about the tree which you never noticed?
Now, reflect on the fact that this tree has been busy during summer months making the air which we need to survive. It has been doing this all its life. How old do you think this tree is? Maybe it has been alive even longer than you? All these years spent making the clean air which keeps us alive and which we almost always take for granted. If it feels right, you can allow a feeling of gratitude to grow. Don’t force it, be gentle and allow it to come if it will. Acknowledge the tree. Smile softly. Place your hand on your heart. Gently (maybe inwardly) whisper “thank you”. In the coming years and months, stop at this tree regularly. You can make it a daily ritual. Get to know the tree. You may be surprised that each day you can see something new. Notice the very last leaf of winter. Notice the first moment in spring when new leaves start to appear. Notice how your mood on any given day affects how you see or relate to the tree. Over time this tree may start to feel like an old friend.
A daily practice of gratitude and cultivating a connection with nature may increase your own sense of well-being and reduce stress.
Try it and see!
Barry and Evan