The Tree Of Life
At the end of September came the shocking news that the beautiful ancient tree at Sycamore Gap in Northumberland had been vandalised and felled. A mindless act of harm against nature and community.
Trees are living organisms that our planet needs. They are symbols of wisdom, resilience and of life itself. The news that this iconic tree's 300 year life was ended abruptly has left many people deeply saddened.
Trees can feel pain just like us. They bleed when they are hurt, have arms like us and a trunk which is why people feel a deep connection with them. As well as the beauty that they provide in the changing seasons, trees absorb tonnes of carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They cool the air, stabilise soils and provide food and habitats for wildlife. Forests are often referred to as the lungs of our planet. In urban areas trees help to filter pollutants and fine particulates making air cleaner for us to breathe. And if you walk through a forest or take in some shade under trees you notice how considerably cooler it is.
“Trees are our closest relatives. What trees exhale, they inhale. They are half a respiratory system” - Jaggi Vasudev
Being amongst trees, nature and green space can create feelings of calm and help reduce stress and anxiety. Research shows that spending time around trees can improve immunity and lower blood pressure, as well as accelerating recovery from a trauma or illness. How lucky are we to have Bushy Park so close by? There is a particular tree in the park that my husband loves. I had a local artist paint the tree with its beautiful autumnal colours back in 2007 and it hangs in our sitting room. Sadly we had to lose a tree in our garden last year as it had developed a disease -an upsetting experience especially when so many trees live much longer lives than we do.
Have you ever hugged a tree? I know that may sound peculiar but when you do hug a tree you release a hormone called oxytocin - the hormone of love and trust. Hugging a tree is obviously a completely different experience to hugging a human or an animal but it's a grounding, centring and pleasant experience offering strength, power and support. Many years ago when I was training to become a clinical aromatherapist part of my curriculum was a visit to Kew Gardens where we all hugged trees. I remember that day very fondly.
The tree of life is a popular and universal symbol that represents different things to various cultures and religions. It is seen as a sacred symbol and one of the main meanings is the connection it has to everything in the universe - a reminder that you are never alone or isolated but rather that you are connected to the world. The roots dig deep and spread into the earth, thereby accepting nourishment from Mother Earth and its branches reach up to the sky, accepting energy from the sun and the moon and as I alluded to earlier, the calm they evoke reflects the tree of life as a symbol for peacefulness and relaxation, as it stands tall and still while it's leaves flutter in the breeze. A unique calming feeling.
I will leave you for this month with a beautiful quote by Napoleon Hill “The strongest oak tree of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It's the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun”