Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2020

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C h e c k o u t A B M P P o c k e t P a t h o l o g y a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / a b m p - p o c k e t - p a t h o l o g y - a p p . 91 are created when an atom or group of atoms loses an electron. Most people, however, are sadly lacking in negative ions. This is because we're overexposed to the positive ions generated by human-made products, including electronic devices, fluorescent lighting, carpet, and paint, as well as air pollution. Because of the abundance of positive ions, exposure to tree-filled areas can increase our serotonin levels, thus creating mental balance. Frolicking in the forest can also help relieve allergies and seasonal affective disorder. 3 FOREST BATHING Perhaps you're starting to glean a hint of how to bolster your own or a client's health through a link with trees. Foremost, spend time in their presence. Other countries have already caught on to this strategy. In fact, since the 1980s, the Japanese have been performing shinrin- yoku, or "forest bathing." Basically, a forest bather absorbs the energy of trees through their five senses, and then bridges to nature through their sixth sense. As underlined by researcher Dr. Qing Li, studies show that forest bathing is resoundingly good for you. Spending time and meditating among the trees reduces stress by lowering the body's levels of cortisol and adrenaline; suppressing the flight/fright/freeze/ fawn reactions; reducing blood pressure; deepening sleep; and enhancing the rest and recovery of the nervous system. There are now 62 certified forest- therapy bases in Japan, where between 2.5 and 5 million people walk forest trails every year. 4 Besides hanging around trees—and finding ways to integrate trees and wood in your practice—a healer should consider reinforcing the subtle effects of trees: as storage houses of collective memory due to their long life spans. Trees live a long time, thus they are commonly perceived as storage houses of collective memory. On the physical level, the electrical signals in a tree's tissue only travel one to two seconds per inch. 5 That means their reactions to events can take several minutes to travel from top to bottom or vice versa. We can benefit from this in our own lives by slowing down our experience of time, inviting an oft-needed change of perspective and the latitude needed to make and reinforce healthy changes. Trees are held in great esteem across time and in many cultures. So sacred are trees that tree worship is a worldwide phenomenon. Most commonly, they are considered the link between the human and transhuman realities—the tree's vertical length serving as a ladder between the heavens, earth, and underworld. Metaphysically, trees are also empowered with an aptitude to grant divine blessings, deliver medicinal cures, channel or represent saints or gurus, and serve as the center of rituals involving spiritual initiations, marriage, and death. 6 Taoism provides us many ways to employ the subtle energies of trees for healing purposes. For one, Taoism prompts us to examine trees to learn resilience. Trees constantly endure the elements without complaint, as those of us requiring fortitude should. 7 According to certain Taoist masters, trees can also absorb negative energy and change it into positive energy. We can benefit from this in our own lives by slowing down our experience of time, inviting an oft-needed change of perspective and the latitude needed to make and reinforce healthy changes. The Asian banyan tree will purify the heart; hawthorns aid in digestion; birches lower body temperature and detoxify the body; willows reduce blood pressure; elms calm the mind; and maples reduce pain. 8 I've always been particularly fascinated by the widespread presence of a Tree of Life in so many cultures. No matter which spirituality I've studied, I've uncovered a tree motif. The Tree of Life in the Abrahamic religions showcases our divinity, while the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represents the need to learn by exercising free will. The Tree of Life in both the African and Jewish traditions reveals a complicated subtle energy anatomy: by climbing upward from the ground, we can regain our oneness with the Creator. USING TREE WISDOM IN YOUR PRACTICE Both the physical and subtle effects of a tree's energy reduce to a simple idea: vibration. Energy, no matter what type, is simply information that vibrates. When people spend time with trees, their health improves. So do their reaction times and concentration levels. Tree lovers also enjoy a reduction in stress and even mental illness, and after interacting with plants and trees, children function better cognitively and emotionally. The silent, strong presence of trees—and

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