Choose one individual (to start) with whom you wish to make a friendship — a favorite tree that’s easy for you to visit several times per week, at least. It should be a tree that is easy for you to walk up to, to touch the trunk (and perhaps hug, if you are
so inclined, and if you’re confident the tree would appreciate it). If you’re a bit nomadic, this doesn’t have to be an exclusive, lifetime affair — even a friendship of a few days can be treasured, and perhaps you can find a new tree friend in every ‘port’.
en you visit, spend at least a minute giving your arborescent friend your undivided attention. Take a little time to get to know it. Talk about the weather. Ask after its health. Have you sprouted new leaves since we last visited? Do you have flowers, fruits or cones today? What other animals are visiting you now? How does the air smell today? How’s your soil? What are you up to this week?
(Note that you do not need to do this out loud, lest other passing humans think you strange, and you shouldn’t expect to ‘hear’ an answer, but you can seek the answers and the tree will ‘tell’ you.)
If you can, spend some meditation time with your tree companion, focusing on the exchange of breath, the reciprocity of O2 and CO2. Realize that much of the tree’s mass, its ephemeral leaves and fruits and flowers, but also the wood of its durable trunk and roots, is constructed from the carbon the tree inhales.
Trees are able to capture our breath, and keep that gift from us as a beautiful piece of their own monumental structure for decades, maybe centuries. The more time you spend breathing beneath a tree’s leafy canopy, the more of the tree will be made from your breath. If you speak beneath a tree, the tree will in some fashion save and be shaped by your very words.
Let us know about your new friend and your experiences with this practice in the comments.
Trees are very good friends to have. Go say “agaya and ubuntu” to one – you’ll be glad you did!
*lack of a ‘g’ there is deliberate – Novasutras is not into monarchy or other ranked hierarchies