Life as we know it would not exist without trees. Trees provide us with filtered oxygen, building and cooking resources, medicines, fruits to eat, and wood for tools. Trees are among the most critical resources for our survival as a species. But that doesn’t mean that trees are only good for surviving physically. Trees in and of themselves are also crucial to our spiritual growth.
Again, trees represent healing, strength against adversity, growth, and life itself. This is why so many cultures have looked to the tree as a symbol of ultimate wisdom and teaching. Today, we are going to talk about how trees can help you in your daily meditations. Let’s dive in and learn from the oldest teachers on Earth.
Trees in Mythology and Religion.
Mythology has a deeply rooted place in the psyche of human society. Every civilization on Earth has its own legends, myths, faiths, and beliefs that date back for hundreds and thousands of years. Mythology is how the ancestors of our past viewed the world around them through a spiritual lens.
While each culture has its unique mythologies, some themes remain strikingly consistent across them all. One of those themes is the presence of trees. Trees appear across the globe in ancient traditions and modern faiths alike. They are found in sacred symbolism, ancient writing, and even traditional dishes handed down from generation to generation.
In ancient Norse mythology, the mythical Yggdrasil is the ash tree on which all other worlds sit. It is the tree of life that connects all known realities. In the sacred ash world tree, the realms of men, the ice giants, and the elves all rest and are connected to each other. The domain of men cannot reach the other realms unless they travel the living tree of Yggdrasil.
Subsequently, in many sects of Buddhism and Hinduism, the banyan tree and the sacred fig are highly revered for their healing and divine properties. It is believed that the pipal tree is the dwelling place of Brahma in ancient Hindu belief systems.
Again in Abrahamic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the tree represents the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, as well as the Tree of Life. These are all examples of faith taking an essential stance that trees are special conduits that can teach us, bind us, and connect with the spiritual and cognitive realms more deeply.
Trees In Modern Culture
The sacred imagery and values placed on trees is not something that lives in the past. Even today, trees are kept in very high regard by many modern faiths and belief systems worldwide. Outdoor meditation or meditating among trees is a common practice in many cultures.
In Buddhism, trees have long been upheld and protected as lives worthy of respect and nurturing. They are believed to carry with them wisdom and strength that we can draw upon when meditating underneath their leaves and branches. Siddhārtha Gautama (the Buddha) was born, achieved enlightenment under the leaves of the Bodhi tree, and even passed away below a tree.
Secondly, in many cultures, such as the villages of Madagascar and Cote d’Ivoire, trees are used as gathering places for important village decisions and political meetings. From the Grandidier’s Baobab to the Gold Coast Bombax, trees become focal points of shelter for elders and leaders worldwide.
Thirdly, the Igbo people of Nigeria hold a special place in their hearts for the Cola tree. Their connection to the Cola tree is so strong that no meetings or gatherings are held in very high regard without a Cola nut. The breaking of the Cola nut to begin any discussion is of utmost importance in this region.
Likewise, The tree’s symbol is prevalent even in modern western cultures – from the tradition of the Christmas tree to trees in company logos and product branding. Trees are widely recognized today as symbols of fertility, fruitfulness, life, and energy.
Therefore, when you dive into the connections that we have as humans to trees in our faith, it becomes clear that trees have played an essential role in our spiritual enlightenment as a species. Ever since our days of climbing up trees ourselves, we humans have always held a special place for trees in our hearts as our ancestral homes and shelters.
While trees may be of extreme importance for faith and spirituality, they are not the keys to unlocking your inner mind and self. Trees offer us lessons to reflect on and hold powers to teach and guide us if we allow them to speak to us. However, the focus of Tree Meditation is learning to meditate on the idea of trees, rather than rely on them to hold our hands.
Imagine for a moment that you are sitting underneath a towering tree. The tree can be an oak, a ficus, a fir, or any tree you feel the most connected to. You are sitting beneath its foliage and soaking in the shade on your skin.
Close your mind, and allow your breathing to take control of you. Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. You can now focus on the idea of the tree and what it stands for. Deep beneath you are the roots that sprawl out in a system of connected veins that bring life and water to the tree’s body. They spread out endlessly beneath the soil, entirely in tune with Earth and the life that exists beneath its ground.
Next, imagine the life being soaked from the soil and into the trunk of the tree. Here is where the firm and steadfast nature of the tree resides in full. The trunk helps the tree to weather any storm or adversary. The trunk allows the tree to grow tall and spread its leaves towards the sky above. The trunk reminds us that we can grow stronger throughout our days and develop our own core to withstand any adversity.
Up above is the sprawling network of lush green leaves tipping the tree’s broad, sweeping branches. These are the fingers of life extended and unfurled to absorb the sun’s light and energy and the cosmos. Here knowledge and celestial understanding flows down from the skies and settles on the leaves of the tree. The tree absorbs the experience and energy and takes it all into itself, never overwhelmed and always prepared for the knowledge it must learn.
As such, this is how the tree lives its life – from the roots deep in the soil to the leaves, reaching for the stars. This is the lesson that we can learn from the trees around us. This is the connection that trees have to the spirit and mind. This is how we learn to have a strong foundation in our lives, a sturdy core, and a mind always open to the lessons of the cosmos.
This is how we can learn to meditate on the idea of trees. It comes from understanding the tree, how it connects to the Earth below and the sky above, and how that relates to us. Try this Tree Meditation and see if you can draw a meaningful strength from them.
What can we Learn from Trees?
Learning how trees connect to our daily lives is a great way to remain mindful of life, the Earth, and how we are all growing daily. This makes it essential for us to remember to take the time to stop and reflect on the trees around us.
When you find yourself strolling down your neighborhood street, pay attention to the trees lining the sidewalk. When you find yourself hiking in the wilderness, take a moment to reflect on the towering trees that surround you. Trees surround us every day of our lives, even in our concrete jungles. Take the time to soak in their energy, and meditate on how they grow and live.
Each day trees are destroyed to give us resources. These trees provide habitats for wildlife, irrigation for water, and filtered oxygen for us. Let’s not take their service to us for granted. If we all come together to remember how trees connect to our lives, we can all learn to grow spiritually and physically alongside them.
Trees can teach us a lot about who we are and how we should live our spiritual and physical lives. Imagine a tree standing tall as an observer who has been observing for decades in all kind of weather. A Tree is full of silent wisdom. A Tree is a silent giver who is never afraid to let go of his leaves. Tree meditation on their lessons can be one way to bring perspective and balance into an already chaotic and fast-paced world.
Even today, trees can continue to be our spiritual teachers.