Taoist Tree Meditation

The following tree meditation was found in a book entitled Still as a Mountain, Powerful as Thunder, written by Y.P.Dong. It is a simple Taoist exercise for healing, vitality, and peace of mind. Trees are a treasured source of energy for practising meditation. The solidity of a tree, its roots connecting it with the energy of the earth, is a quality that is emulated by the practitioner. One has only to look at the roots of a tree growing near rocks or a pavement to realize that a tree has the tremendous power necessary to buckle concrete and separate stones. As long as our arboreal friends are not injured, they seem able to live for an indefinite period of time. For the Chinese, trees live in close harmony with the Tao.

  1. You can practice with a tree in your garden or any natural area. The energies of trees are most available at dawn or dusk, but they can practice with you at any time. In general, select a comfortable standing meditation posture as close to the trunk of the tree as possible.
  2. If you are in a wooded area, walk slowly and visually scan the area without focusing on any single object. Wait for one tree to select you by suddenly becoming the attractive focus of your attention in a way that differs from all the surrounding trees. You will know when you have found your tree because you will feel more inclined to practice with this tree than with any other you have seen.
  3. Once you approach your tree, notice from which direction the sunlight is falling on its trunk. If you feel tense and have recently been under a lot of stress, you may want to stand in the tree's shadow, which heightens the convergence of yin energy. If you feel weak or have recently been ill, you should stand in the sunlight. In any case, you should always try to stand on the most level area at the base of the trunk.
  4. Whether you stand facing the tree trunk or away from it depends on the size of the tree and your personal preference. If it is a small tree, you may be able to partially encircle the trunk with your arms without actually touching it. A larger tree may ask you to stand with your back as close to it as possible without making physical contact.
  5. Relax by feeling yourself breathing with the tree. Feel every part of your body gently expand and contract as you inhale and exhale naturally, smoothly, and softly. Experience the feeling that there is no difference between you and the tree. Maintain this feeling as long as you can.
  6. If you get tired but wish to continue your meditation, sit down with your back against the tree and close your eyes. Imagine that the pressure of the trunk against your back is your own spine and that tremendous energy is being transmitted into your body. Continue as long as you are comfortable. The same exercise may be done lying down with your head against the base of the tree, using leaves for padding if the bark is too rough for the scalp and neck.
  7. When you have completely returned to your own body, place both hands against the trunk of the tree and slowly inhale and exhale 21 times, or a bit longer. Mentally transmit your own energy to the tree through your palms while exhaling, and take in energy while inhaling. You will know that you are doing this correctly when you feel a slight pulsating sensation directly in the centre of your palms.

You may later return to this particular tree or choose another. Feel free to improvise and experiment, because you may find a particular way of practising with trees that allows you to integrate more completely with them. Let your own body and the tree be your guide, for there is no set routine to follow. You are attempting to draw energy by integrating yourself with nature; therefore, do what seems most natural to you.


Photograph by: Kah Wai Sin

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