Treequility: the feeling of peace from spending time in nature amongst trees and forest. It can be a deep stillness that is reflected in one’s slow walking pace, and one’s senses absorbing the sights, smells and sounds of nature. It can also be a feeling of well-being, that everything is good in our world. It can be an heart-felt sense of awe as we lose ourself in the beauty of nature. There is a peculiar heart sensation we may experience where we are on the cusp between smiling and crying with joy and gratitude. Getting lost amongst the trees is a great way to restore and revitalise us before returning to the modern world. Within this silence we may find creativity and answers to the world’s issues.
Back To Work
I have only been back at work for a week. It was an incredibly busy week with lots of pressures and deadlines. Christmas and New Year have come and gone and clients who have felt frustrated that not much could happen on their new projects over the Christmas season holidays are all energised now to get things done quickly. Correction, for me to now get their projects completed quickly. Multiply this by a few clients and the pressure is on.
The best way I have found for me to wind down and relax from life’s pressures is to walk through nature, particularly forests.
While some people meditate or do yoga I find that synching myself with nature helps to relieve me of stress, anxiety and an overactive mind.
Tree therapy is spending time in solitude amongst trees. It involves slow and deliberate walking to allow your senses to open up. It is about emptying your thoughts and embracing the here and now.
Roamancing The Stone
I decided this morning to go and explore Lower Beechmont Conservation Area which is only a short 10 minute drive from home. I have never visited this area before with a wide access trail that follows Clagiraba Creek.
The area is very dry, consisting of dry eucalypt forested hills that drop down to the creek which supports subtropical rainforest species including Piccabeen Palmsand tree ferns.
After walking along the designated Clagiraba Creek Trail for some time I decided to go ‘off road’ and rock hop along the creek.
I decided to step off the path and explore the creek, and connect me with my inner child. A child likes to play, to explore, to discover, to allow their innate curiosity to take them on an adventure. Away from iPhones and iPads, children are at their most authentic expressive selves when they are outdoors at play, especially in nature.
It also had the effect of taking me out of my thoughts as I focused on each step so as not to end up in the creek. Each step and each rock pool was an adventure, who knows what one could discover.
On the return there was a grand old mother hoop pine in an open meadow. I decided to sit under its cool shade and close my eyes. Sitting there I thanked the tree for the oxygen and shade it provided.
After a few moments I opened up my eyes and began to just enjoy the beauty of the tree. I ran my fingers along its rough bark and picked up fallen leaves and winged seeds upon the thick brown leaf litter mat at the tree’s base.
Within the shade I contemplated how most humans view trees. Some see them simply as resources to be exploited. Yes, they do provide shade, food and oxygen, and their roots help to stabilise the soil, but most see trees for what they can get by killing them.
Because they don’t move in ways that are perceptible by our impatient minds, we may forget that they are creatures. To me a creature is not merely what we would classify as animals. A ‘creature’ is something that was ‘created’. I am referring to Christianity in this case, trees are part of God’s Creation.
Plants and trees just like animals are part of Creation. They move, albeit slowly. They sense changes in their environment and respond to stimuli. They communicate with each other forming complex communities we call forests. Trees even exchange water and sugars, feeding each other at difficult times of the year.
They are also ‘creative’ beings. They procreate just like humans and animals do.
Forests are complex communities that support an incredibly diverse array of creatures which we are only starting to really understand. A clue to why I am drawn to forests to slow down, rest and recuperate is found in their very name ‘for rest’.
Forests are places ‘for rest’.
Importance of Forests
Forests are crucial not only for our physical, but also spiritual well being. They are places where we can ‘get away from it all’. Away from our stressful modern lives and connect to our inner wild.
Every tree is crucial, and on the Gold Coast, even with our rampant path of overdevelopment, we are blesssed to be surrounded by stunning natural beauty.
The Gold Coast has around 49% forest cover and is the most biodiverse city in Australia – I think this has contributed to the carefree outdoor health-conscious culture we have here.
I feel blessed that I am able to drive only 10 minutes and be in a valley surrounded by forest. Those living closer to the ocean experience more built-up ways of living. In these areas, every tree is important. It has been shown that people living where there are trees have lower stress levels and greater resilience.
How would your world change if you began to view trees as creatures? Not just as a ‘bunch of trees’, instead, you started to see each tree as unique and individual as any human being.
If you can make that leap, then something miraculous can happen. All of a sudden you can feel a tree’s consciousness beyond the scientific. Understanding that like you and me they have needs, that they may even have likes and dislikes like we do. Maybe too, just maybe they too may morn when they see their tree families, friends and communities around them being destroyed by bulldozers, chainsaws, and axes.
It has been found that mother trees, the big old trees in a forest feed their young saplings when her canopy overshadows them. They do this through their underground network of fungus. That is why these saplings who need light to make their food survive under the protective canopy of their mothers.
Visiting Tree Friends
What would happen in our world if we were to see trees as people?
Every time I go on a walk I’ve been on before I feel a deep sense of joy. That is because I am visiting living neighbourhoods and communities and saying hello to individual tree friends that each time I see them always leave me with a deep sense of joy. Just seeing and acknowledging their presence and enjoying the silent conversation. : )
Death In The Family Tree
With the extreme storms we have experience over the last few years, there have been times when I have visited forests on the Gold Coast and left feeling saddened. That is because ancient trees I had got used to and had always expected that they would always be there had toppled over taking great swathes of the surrounding forest with them.
One such tree that comes to mind is a massive old fig tree in Palm Grove National Park on Mt Tamborine. It was difficult to believe that this huge tree with its giant sculptural roots was no longer living. The base of its trunk was many metres across.
There was also another giant fig tree in the MacDonald section of Mt Tamborine National Park. It was snapped in two no doubt by strong winds, leaving the fig tree right next to it to stand next two a skeleton. While humans leave grave stones, trees leave their slowly rotting remains as a testament to their existence.
The Gold Coast City Council has a program where residents can nominate trees to be part of the Gold Coast Heritage Local Register.
These trees are important as they help tell the story of the Gold Coast, but more importantly I think, it helps us to begin to acknowledge and appreciate the importance of trees as individuals. If we can change our perception, language and relationship to trees I think we can dramatically change the environmental decisions we make.
As I got up to walk back to the car, inside my mind I thanked the big old mother hoop pine. In return for her shade and calming energy I picked up some of her winged seeds and walked a few metres away and dug holes and planted her children.
That way they would have a chance to grow in full sunlight and still be close to their mother.
Out To Pasture
Parts of the conservation area I walked through looked like it had been once pasture. There were few very old and large trees but mainly thin-trunked eucalpyts that were no doubt allowed to regenerate.
Gold Coast City Council had bought the land with the Environmental Levy that residents paid. The Clagiraba Creek Trail was officially opened by Mayor Tom Tate in August 2016.
It will take time for this land to once again become a rich and complex community, that will, just like human communities evolve over time.
Trees and forests have a lot to teach us. We need simply to walk slowly and sit quietly and allow their wisdom to speak to us. It is in that state of treequility that we can access new thoughts and ideas and connect to our creativity.
Simply through ‘naturing’ ourselves, surrounding ourselves with the energy of trees, slowing down our frenetic energy to the timeless rhythms of tree people we may tap into a new consciousness.
I do think the future of humanity is deeply connected with trees. Each tree destroyed takes us further away from what makes us human.
A human, like trees, are ‘hu-mans’ , people of the earth or humus.
There is a world that is unseen beyond our imaginations to explore. Some call this the supernatural. By understanding trees we can discover our true human nature that can bring us closer to God, the Creator, the Universe.
I hope that we are cognisant enough to not lose our connection to the tree people, that we respect our elders enough to not destroy them and open enough hear their wisdom.
I think the answer to humanity’s pressing environmental issues begins by retreating into the forests, to experience a deep sense of treequility, and the treeativity that can ensue.