Red Gum Dreaming

In our little bit of forest, close to the wetlands and the beach, a giant red gum remains. Once they reigned over this land, until greedy cattle graziers had them bulldozed to make pasture. The land was too poor to support the cattle, and soon casuarinas from the wetlands had seeded into what had been redgum (E. tereticornis) forest. We are helping the red gums to regenerate, but here is our treasure. While we sat under it this morning we were surrounded with bird song, and saw Grey Eastern Thrush, Golden Whistler, Grey Fantail and others.

Eucalyptus tereticornis, about 200 years old

In yoga class I sometimes offer a relaxation/guided meditation like this (read it slowly!): Imagine yourself walking through a forest, see the path beneath your feet, stones, leaves, grasses, feel the sunlight shafting through the trees, warming your skin, hear the bird song around you, and breathe in the scents of eucalyptus, the fresh sweet air of the trees.

Now find a tree to sit against, a forest giant, and nestle down amongst its roots, lean your back on its trunk, and close your eyes. Feel the life pulse of the tree, sap moving in the trunk, slow and steady …. imagine your legs reaching down into the ground below, becoming the roots of this mighty tree, finding their way between the rocks to the most nourishing soil, becoming finer and finer, until the cells are so entwined with the earth they can draw in the nourishment they need. Your roots spread broad and strong, supporting the tall trunk and the reach of the branches high above.


Now let your awareness travel back up through the rootlets, the roots, and into the main part of the tree,  moving through the trunk, your trunk, sturdy, beautiful, reaching up with confidence while anchored firmly into the ground. A buzz of activity here, nutrients travelling up and down, a highway, a meeting place …. and let your awareness keep rising into your arms, feeling them like great branches carrying shimmering green leaves out into the sky. A gentle breeze rustles the leaves, and they hang angled just so towards the sun, collecting the solar energy needed for life. So high, so wide, the ground seems far below, and birds are your constant visitors, flying in and out, capturing insects, feeding on nectar, tending their young in nests. What other insects or animals are you aware of? Bees, butterflies and moths? Perhaps gliders hidden in a hollow, waiting until dark to come out to feed?


Look around you, seeing as a tree sees, feeling as a tree feels, delighting, loving, patient, having seen the busy life of men and animals coming and going for hundreds of years. Listen to the wisdom of the tree, speak heart to heart, and rest in your stately green treeness.

When you are ready feel the the crown of the tree morphing back into your head and arms and fingers, the roots changing to legs legs, the treebody to your body, and find yourself relaxing, refreshed and renewed after your meditation. Send your gratitude to your wise tree self.

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