I’ve been thinking about “tree hugging.”
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that?
Is it, as a quick Wikipedia search revealed, “A slang, sometimes derogatory, term for environmentalists”?
Could it be the literal act of hugging a tree?
If you did actually hug a tree, how do you imagine you would feel?
It might not surprise you that I have hugged a tree.
Ok, ok - I must admit I'm not monogomous when it comes to trees. I've hugged many ;)
To be honest, as many times I’ve done it, I still can feel that when I hug a tree, it immediately turns me into the kind of person that our society shuns, outcasts, and labels as crazy.
All I’m actually doing is leaning in to something stronger, allowing myself to be supported, and wrapping my arms around something that is round and fits just the right way in my arms.
I’m pausing, yielding my body weight, resting, breathing, taking a break, giving in….
Sometimes the bark is rough; sometimes I stain my clothes with sap; sometimes I scratch my face.
Other times I notice just how GOOD the bark smells; I notice the critter crawling up an enormous tower of a trunk; I notice the soft, smooth white bark of the incredible western Aspen.
Two weeks ago, during the Boulder Creek CityDance - a sunrise to sunset event of dancing at different sites along the Boulder Creek – I led an activity where I invited people to do a “Yield and Push Dance” with trees. Here’s how the activity went:
- Find a tree (we were in a park, but this can be anywhere you feel comfortable to explore).
- Allow your body to completely yield and be supported by the tree. Try leaning in different ways, with different body parts, releasing the weight of your body into the tree. Sense how gravity impacts your body, the tree, and your relationship with the tree.
- Any time you want to move, do so only by pushing. Push with your hands, your head, your thighs, your feet. Push into the ground, the tree, a branch, another body part. Move however you like, at any speed, but only by pushing.
- Notice what kinds of movement happen. Notice emotions and images. Pushing can get tiring. Allow yourself to move back and forth between yielding and pushing as your energy allows.
- Allow yourself at least 10 minutes with this tree. Then try it with a tree of a different age and size.
- If you have someone who wants to explore this practice with you, try the “Yield & Push” dance with each other after dancing with the trees. Try out movements that you found with your trees. Use extra care and consciousness as you work with another human.
During the Creek Dance activity, people were scattered around the park, each person doing a slow dance with a tree. It was striking.
A couple of tourists biked by; remarking out loud in what I perceived to be a mixed sense of surprise and awe, “They are actually hugging trees.”
Last week, I was inspired by an elder who wrote this postcard to the earth:
"Seeking to make
an Eco Joke
I hugged you,
By the longing
My hug released,
By the insight:
You've longed for my hug
Why not give it a try?
Try the full Yield and Push dance above. Or keep it simple and hug a tree.
Notice what you notice.
Let me know how it goes by responding below.
If there’s anyone in your life, near or far, who could use a hug – please send this along.