Winding away from my cul-de-sac, beyond landscaped lawns and sidewalks onto the muddy, overgrown path of the forest, I scanned along mossy limestone outcroppings, remnants of a glacial past, for a resting spot. Nestling into the scooped root bed of a mature tree, I felt the strong, rough trunk firm behind my back.
I tilted my head back and opened my eyes to the dizzying sway of naked branches creaking under swiftly skimming clouds. I sunk into the leaf-covered ground, thankful for the winter partition this sunny day offered. Connected and grounded, I felt the energy of the tree enter through my back, filling my body with its signature current.
I’m an Earth girl, most at home under leafy boughs. From childhood on, I’ve felt most energized exploring in the woods or hiking fern and fungus-draped ravines, intoxicated by the smell of molted leaves returning to humus. A few minutes under the canopy, and I feel the biome envelop and soothe my body, mind and spirit.
When I quiet and tune in to an individual tree, I can feel its distinct energetic presence. And, true to its reciprocal nature, it will generously share its personal vibe and recharge me in a brief interchange, transmuting my heaviness.
This time, though, I didn’t just feel the tree. I heard it beating, like a heart. I pulled away thinking it was my own heart throbbing after my walk, but it was not my body’s sound. The distinct rhythm pulsated from the tree at its own cadence. Or perhaps it rose from my imagination? I don’t know for sure, but stand open to hearing whatever Mother Nature or human nature want to share, in their own fashion.
Several days later, I drifted into a dreamlike state in meditation and the forest visited me. I was conscious and witness to what was happening, but not controlling or guiding the imagery or sensations. I merely tagged along a step behind trying to soak it all in as my bedroom morphed into a forest carpet. Large transparent leaves and roots with coursing vessels slowly writhed and grew around me, creaking and rustling as they enveloped my body, layering and shading the light of the white sky above. Through their transparent skins I could see a network of vessels.
Life pulsated in unison through this organic vasculature. A booming heartbeat joined in time with the visual pulse. I instinctively knew this sound was the singular drum of the entire Earth, and my own heart was a part of the chorus, thudding in my chest. This beat hijacked the little voice inside my head and called out: The Earth is claiming you!
This scene easily could have slipped into the morbid, buried-alive stuff of nightmares, but I did not feel threatened or afraid. Instead, I felt a sense of fused connection long ago lost, a sense of belonging to a fluid ecosystem. It was a hit-me-over-the-head reminder that I am not separate, as much as my head likes to think I am.
I understood then that the tree’s heartbeat I’d heard days prior was the Earth calling me. With this knowing, I sank into the cool darkness of another realm. In its blackness, a blue glow emanated from a network of thin vessels teeming with trains of blue light. They twisted and curled into the form of a woman’s body. I recognized her as Earth’s essence, made visible in a way I could comprehend.
She did not speak. Her eyes were shut tight, but she wasn’t sleeping. She was mourning, hurt and sad. And she was spent, resting, but not restful, as though she had just finished a good, long cry. Her head slowly turned to me in a pleading slant. My heart ached for her as I was pulled back to the Earth’s surface and waking consciousness. I rejoined my day awed by a new sense of responsibility to protect and restore our planet.
I used to fret over the taxonomy and reality of meditative experiences like these. As I endeavor to feel my way through life more than thinking my way through, I question less. They don’t neatly fit the confines of dreams, thoughts or visions, and that’s okay. They are simply powerful truths that take creative form in the space between conscious and subconscious, once we step back and welcome wisdom from within and beyond.
- What elements in nature are you most attracted to? How do you respond physically, mentally and emotionally?
- What sensations do you feel in your body when your spirit or emotions are uplifted?
- What clarity, insight or wisdom have you gained through a meditation or dream experience?