Taking a walk amongst trees

During the summer months there is an opportunity to ascend to higher ground by way of the Palm Springs Tram. There one can commune with the forest and wilderness. This journey is a reprieve from the valley’s triple digit temperatures, while affording an opportunity for healthy exercise and an invitation to observe trees and their fascinating ability as wise teachers of our universe and our interconnectedness with them. The director of Japan’s forestry coined the term “forest bathing” and since this time “taking in the forest atmosphere” has been an emerging pastime. Immersing oneself into the depths of the forest is considered a cornerstone of health in Japanese medicine. This becomes evident when we consider the vicinity of every tree of the forest and its connection in an elaborate underground web. This connection through small tubes made up of fungi at roots is called mycorrhizal fungi which spans out and weaves an underground pattern. This thread-like fungi assists each tree by siphoning carbon rich sugar from branches to roots from photosynthesis. From roots to branches the fungi deliver nitrogen and phosphorous from soil. Similar to neural networks in human’s brains this fungus network is not just helping one tree at a time independently. This network is an interdependent cooperative system. Warning signals are sent amongst trees related to environmental changes and transfer of nutrients to help neighboring plants that are struggling. Trees can tell when one tree needs extra help versus another tree, thereby working to create an overall habitable ecosystem. The welfare of each tree must be optimal for a group of trees to prosper. In forests trees are the foundation, and they provide the habitat for everything else to thrive.
As we walk along the forest floor we can imagine this intricate below-ground pipeline. We can imagine it as a secret, social media underworld. While there is this interconnectedness with trees one can allow this to unearth one’s sensitivity to one’s own interconnectedness with others and everything all around. As we begin to place care, concern and connection into this environmental wonder, one can take the experience of forest dwelling into one’s everyday lives. Engaging and helping within our community while sensing others around us in subtler ways beyond words, becomes an experience to reach towards. Reflecting on John Muir’s words captures this opportunity; “Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life”. This invitation to realize a walk in the woods, will transcend to a heightened awareness of the inner workings of nature and ourselves.