Taoist Tree Meditations
By Caryn Boyd Diel
first published in Epic Magazine May 2020
It is an epic time on our planet, when social distancing is becoming a ‘thing.’ As a Taoist practitioner I can assure you that there is one resident species near you that is welcoming closer contact: a tree. The Wood element in Traditional Chinese Medicine engenders the higher virtues of expansion, growth and generosity. These virtues are easily seen in the patient yet tenacious life force of a tree. Taoist tree meditations connect you energetically to a forest, or to a specific tree, with the intention of circulating your chi for physical and emotional healing.
Trees are masters at transforming chi from the sun, soil and atmosphere. Each day we humans also need to transform our chi, by either cultivating the quality and quantity of our chi, and/or releasing negative chi. Trees lend themselves to this process generously. The earth energy from which trees draw their strength is enormous, much larger than our human minds can actually grasp, and therefore the transformative power of trees (and the earth) is inexhaustible.
Perhaps you have a favorite tree that you remember from childhood. There are trees that I recall with great fondness for their rightness-of-being; whether in cities, forests, or near rivers, they add beauty to their surroundings. As you learn to circulate chi between yourself and a tree, many thoughts and emotions may arise.
Soon you realize that trees are not solitary beings, they are connected to everything around, above and below them. The sun, moon, stars, air, rain, clouds, wind, soil, fungi, creatures in the air and on the land are all in relationship to the trees. Trees have personalities just as people do, with varying shapes, sizes and qualities; and, like people, they contribute to their communities.
Trees emit color, just as humans emanate color in their auras. Pine trees radiate green, which relates to the Wood element and the liver. Cedar trees exude red, which relates to the Fire element and the heart. Willow trees emit yellow for the Earth element and stomach. Poplar trees give off a White color, which is related to the Metal element and the Lungs. Cypress trees emanate a dark blue/black color, which represents the Water element and assists the kidneys. Some people see or sense color; others may feel color. However your senses have developed is right for you.
You may sit or stand quietly and absorb the essence of a forest grove. Allow deep stirrings of intuition to arise within you. Open and begin to feel its vibration, even sensing subtle movement. Or you may set a specific intention to commune with a particular tree, sensing its flow and color.
Once a tree has chosen you, or you have decided upon a tree to meditate with, move into the energetic chi field of the tree. Open yourself and the palms of your hands to sense the aura of the tree, and step slowly forward to a comfortable distance. Begin breathing with the intention of absorbing the essence of the tree (and all nature around you). Inhale through your nose. As you inhale, sense or imagine that you are inhaling through every pore in your body. Exhale from your mouth, and release toxins from every pore in your body. Conclude your tree meditation by leaning your spine up against the tree for a few minutes. Relax into the presence and stillness of the tree.
Another method of working with tree medicine is to circulate your chi out of the soles of your feet into the roots of the tree, and then bring tree energy into the crown of your head from the top of the tree. Slow down your respiration to match nature and the tree that you are connected with.
Recently, as I was getting to know a specific tree in the forest near my home, I sensed a stillness in its life force, which conveyed a realization of the Stillness and the Tao. Stillness is not simply the lack of movement, but the deep, unmanifested creative force, which gives birth to the balance of yin and yang. Of course trees move as they grow, but very slowly and in keeping with right timing.
One of my fondest tree meditations happened earlier this year. Every day I look out upon two tall trees that were planted 40 years ago by my neighbor: one a Sequoia and the other a California Redwood; I can see them now as I write. Every day I gaze out at those trees and notice if the wind is blowing, or if there is an eagle or a hawk sitting at the top of one of them. On this particular day I went out early in the morning to catch the sunrise over the lake. I walked down to the trees and at that moment the sun rose over the hills. I soaked in the sunshine as I stood next to the trees (which I have permission to visit any time). I stood under one of the trees and filled my body with sunlight. I sensed a vibrant pink aura enveloping the tree and me. For the rest of that day and night, every cell in my body was with humming with light and the higher frequencies of Nature.
Soon I will return to the tall trees of Colorado and New Mexico. I look forward to my annual retreat in Pagosa Springs, and the fragrance of the pine trees as the high mountain sun heats up their needles. There are many trees in the world, so have some fun finding what each of them has to teach you.
Like each of us, trees impact the integrated unified field of all life. It gives us food for thought as we ponder our own contributions to life. We may not be as famous as the giant Redwoods of California, or Tane Mahuta, (lord of the forest) revered by the Maori of New Zealand, but we are each participate in the evolution of our own destiny and consciousness. It is this refined consciousness that engenders immortality.
Winter Solstice offers us a chance to cross the veils of space and time to gain benefit of celestial alignments. The portal, or vortex, is open and this is a great time to meditate. Aligning one’s chi field with the energy of the Hexagrams of the I Ching and their movement as a calendar of the year is a deeply revealing practice. Every 5 or 6 days, the direction and quality of chi changes. We begin with 0 (zero) degrees North at the Winter Solstice. From Dec 17-22 we are working with the energy of Hexagram #2. Pure Yin. We sit facing North during this time to pick up the celestial energy emanating from the North. The 64 Hexagrams introduce us to the powerful forces of Nature. As an immortal practice there is nothing more refining than to merge one’s chi field with the Universal Chi Field of nature.
Fu 復 Internal Alchemy Meditation (from Master Wu)
This a powerful practice for the winter solstice itself, but you will also gain great benefits from adding this simple practice to your daily schedule throughout the winter. It is vital that you find a place of stillness now so that you will become aware of the changing of the seasons. When the Water element, kidneys, experience rejuvenation in winter, the spring season will naturally come to life through the liver, Wood element, and you will feel a surge of new chi in the Spring.
Please light a candle in front of you and place your hands in the Fu mudra, which is made by touching each thumb to the base of the ring fingers. The palmar crease of the ring finger is associated with the hexagram Fu, #24, Turning Back. This hexagram explains to us the natural forces that occur this time of year. The light is returning.
“Attain the highest void;
Maintain the deepest stillness.
When ten thousand beings rise and fall,
Watch their turning back”
Make sure to keep your fingers together and relaxed. Then, place your mudra with palms on your belly and middle fingers touching the navel.First, open your eyes and look directly at the candlelight. Then close your eyes and imagine the candlelight is radiating from your DanTian (lower belly). Adjust your breathing to be slow, smooth, deep, and even. Feel how your DanTian grows lighter and brighter with each breath. Meditate in this way for as long as you can. At the end of your meditation, offer a short blessing:
“May the Spiritual Lights shine within my heart and body,
May the Spiritual Lights shine within my family and friends,
May the Spiritual Lights shine within all beings,
May the Spiritual Lights always shine with peace and harmony for the World.”
Qigong and Meditation
Qigong and Meditation instruction are included as a part of most of our classes and retreats. Sometimes there is a Seasonal Qigong and Meditation class offered, so please join our mailing list to be informed of current class offerings.
What is the benefit of Seasonal Qigong forms?
Humans are Nature. Our rhythms move naturally with the movement of the sun, moon, (light and dark) planets and stars, tides and rivers, the flowering and fruiting of plants, the movement of animals and birds. Even the digestion of our foods is dependent on what is available each season. Everything that we need to know about our world and keeping healthy can be found simply or metaphorically in nature.
Our breath is just right for a human body. The respiration of a tree is just right for the tree. Both have consciousness and ways of communicating. The planet has one breath each year, an inhale and an exhale. Drawing in chi and letting go of chi as the earth moves on its axis. The hummingbird has a quick movement, the galaxies a much slower movement.
Qigong movements create a flow of chi through the body and its structure; the meridians. Each meridian is a river of chi moving between the interior and the exterior of the body, from organs to the extremities and back. Every organ has it’s season, sound, and color, and time of day. And therefore we can use qigong to strengthen the organs and our overall health by choosing a movement which recognizes the organ and brings more chi into the organ. Sound and color produce a quality of chi. Movement creates a flow of chi.
For example, during the Spring it is a great idea to choose movements that clear and tonify the Liver chi. Locate the liver and gallbladder meridians and make some movements, or do some stretches and massage for the liver and gallbladder meridians. Make it fun. And send some vibrant spring green color from your mind’s eye into the liver and gallbladder to tonify them. Sounds will break up stagnation and move out stuck chi. Try the sound Shhhhh and see the old chi moving out of your liver to be recycled by the universe.
Each Season/Element has a movement. Winter/Water brings us to a still point; a place of rest and rejuvenation. When we give ourselves the gift of stillness our entire being has an opportunity to become refreshed. Winter Qigong forms that I teach focus on slow movements to open the kidney and bladder meridians, and have longer quiet sitting meditations. I allow the natural darkness to fill the room. Pearl of the Night is a Winter Qigong form that I created. It is very simple and restorative.
Spring/Wood begins the movement upward and outward like the sap rising in the trees, stimulated by the wind moving the woods. Traditionally we use this time of year to detoxify our bodies. Nature, and our liver, is pushing chi up and out through branches and meridians. Qigong forms that stimulate the liver are great for Spring. I like forms like Swimming Dragon which open the spine and Jade Woman which clears liver chi.
Qigong Teacher Training
Interested in becoming a Qigong Instructor, or simply learning more about Qigong? Take this 2 part training taught by Universal Healing Tao Instructor Caryn Boyd Diel, founder of White Cloud Institute.
Class time: 9am-5pm daily. 12 CE credits for Massage Therapists.
*Session 1 will cover the historical foundations of Qigong, basic terminology, past and current research, Taoist philosophy and medical uses of Qigong. Learn the subtle effects of each simple Qigong movement and increase you personal cultivation practice. Practice and Reading is required between classes.
*Session 2 continues with training and evaluation of instructors, including a practical and written exam.
Tuition $395 per session.
The Science of the Cards
Look for upcoming classes, and call for a personal reading
The Science of the 52 Cards is a powerful tool for self-discovery and inner transformation. Most students use it initially to help forecast their future, understand their past and unravel the many facets of their human relationships. However, this system can be used most effectively as a guide to plan and execute many important aspects of our life. A person fully utilizing the information found in this system can walk forward in life with full confidence, knowing that he or she is in harmony with the universal energies and the cycles of his or her own life.
In a workshop, you will learn about your individual Birth Card and Planetary Ruling Card, your relationship to others, and your life’s plan in the Book of Destiny. Learn how the 52 cards can help you more clearly define your life’s purpose and how they provide you with a blueprint for continual success.
Bring your life plans and dreams to class and lets see if we can get you on track to your highest potential.
Instructor Caryn Boyd Diel has been a student of this system of divination and card reading for 20 years and studied with author and Grand Master Robert Lee Camp. She offers Private readings to individuals on Career, Health, Relationship compatibility and Yearly life planning.
The Little Book of the Seven Thunders
Revelations X, Verses 4, 10 and 11
And when the Seven Thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write and I heard a voice saying unto me, “Seal up those things uttered by the Seven Thunders, and write them not.” And I took the little book from the angel’s hand and devoured it and to my taste it was as sweet as honey; but as soon as I devoured it, it became bitter unto my inside.
And he said unto me, you must prophecy again before many people and nations and tongues and kings.
The Order of the Magi, the brotherhood of astrologers, mystics, and priests of the temples of Egypt, was instructed to keep secret the ancient knowledge of the Seven Thunders (the seven visible planets) and the location of this little book (the cards) until the time when humanity would be of the consciousness to understand of this occult system of knowledge and the true magic of life. The first book, The Mystic Test Book by Olney H. Richmond, was published for the public in 1892 in the USA to reveal the secrets of the little book of knowledge and prophetic wisdom–what we refer to today as our “common” deck of playing cards.
History of the deck of Cards
With its origin over 20,000 years ago in the early days of Atlantis, The Order of the Magi is probably one of the oldest spiritual organizations that has ever existed. No one knows the exact origin of the group, but evidence shows that they have maintained and preserved some of our most valuable and important spiritual sciences. These are the Magi of ancient Egypt and before, those who study the laws of nature and our cosmos, those who know the secrets of our planet as no others do and those who are dedicated to the preservation and sharing of these ancient truths. It has been said that the wise men and prophets written about in the Bible were among its members, even that Jesus himself was one of their ordained and trained leaders. And it is only now that the world is ready for the information that has been kept completely secret for thousands of years. It was in 1894 that the very first book was made public that revealed some of their astounding information.
The Ace of Spades has always been the symbol for this ancient group and that is why, to this day, the Ace of Spades always appears larger in decks of cards throughout the world. The Ace of Spades represents the secrets that lie behind what appears to be the truth. It represents the veil that separates the material and spiritual worlds and the power that we have to make a personal transformation to a higher level of consciousness.