How to Befriend a Tree
Beginning practitioners of Chinese internal
organ massage (Chi Nei Tsang) are taught how
to commune with trees. Shouldn’t this be part
of everyone’s education?
by Mantak Chia
COLLECTING TREE ENERGY
- The Healing Abilities of Trees
Taoist Masters observed that trees are tremendously
powerful plants. Not only can they absorb carbon
dioxide and transform it into oxygen, but they can
also absorb negative forces and transform them into
good energy. Trees strongly root with the Earth, and the more rooted the
tree, the higher it can extend to Heaven. Trees stand very still, absorbing
the Earth’s Energy and the Universal Force from the Heavens.
Trees and all plants have the ability to absorb the light of the energies and
transform it into food; in fact, they depend on light for most of their
nourishment, while water and earth minerals make up about 30% of their
nutritional intake. Trees are able to live very long lives.
a. The Tree as Healer and Friend
Trees are the largest and most spiritually advanced plants on earth. They
are constantly in meditation, and subtle energy is their natural language. As
your understanding of this language grows, you can begin to develop a
relationship with them. They can help you open your energy channels and
cultivate calm, presence, and vitality. You can reciprocate by helping them
with their own blockages and devitalized areas. It is a mutually beneficial
relationship that needs cultivation.
b. Choosing a Tree to Work With
Throughout history human beings have used all parts of the tree for healing
and medicine. The best trees for healing are big trees, especially pines. Pine
trees radiate Chi, nourish blood, strengthen nervous systems, and contribute
to long lives. They also nurture souls and spirits. Pines are the “Immortal
Tree.” Early Chinese poetry and painting is full of admiration for pines.
Although pine trees are often the best choice, many other trees or plants
can be used. The larger trees contain the most energy. Among the most
powerful are trees growing near running water. Some trees feel warmer or
hotter than others; some feel cooler or colder than others. Practice
distinguishing the varying properties of different trees.
- Cypress and cedar trees reduce heat and nourish Yin energy.
- Willow trees help to expel sick winds, rid the body of excess dampness,
reduce high blood pressure, and strengthen the urinary tract and bladder.
- Elm trees calm the mind and strengthen the stomach.
- Maple trees chase sick winds and help reduce pain.
- Locust trees help clear internal heat and help balance the weather of the
- Banyan trees clear the heart and help to rid the body of dampness
- Cinnamon trees can clear coldness from the heart and abdomen.
- Fir trees help clear up bruises, reduce swelling, and heal broken bones
- Hawthorn trees help aid digestion, strengthen the intestines, and lower
- Birch trees help clear heat and dampness from the body am: help to
- Plum trees nourish the spleen, stomach, and pancreas and calm the
- Fig trees clear excess heat from the body, increase saliva. nourish the
spleen. and help stop diarrhea.
- Ginkgo biloba trees help strengthen the bladder and alleviate urinary problems
You do not need to go far out into the forest to find an appropriate tree to
work with. Trees that are used to having people around understand our
energy and are actually more accessible and friendly than those far out in
the wilderness. City parks and suburban yards are filled with powerful and
accessible trees that would love to have closer relationships with the humans
that dominate their environment.
There is a certain size range within which trees are most accessible to
human beings. When a tree is too small, it does not have enough energy to
make much of an impression on you. When the tree is too big, you have the
opposite problem, so it takes more persistence to get large trees to take an
interest in you. As a source of healing energy, it is best to choose a large,
robust tree from within the accessible size range. For playful interaction it is
best to choose a small to medium sized tree. While it is not necessary to
climb the tree to develop a relationship, it does open up a whole new world,
Climb gently and carefully so as not to harm the tree.
c. Establishing Communion with a Tree
There are certain methods to approaching, interacting with, retreating from
and taking leave of a tree. By following specific steps you create a ritual of
silent communion that both you and the tree can understand, and so
increase the potential for harmonious interaction. The steps were derived
from observation of the natural course of events in subtle energy
communion, and apply to communion with just about anything: tree, rock,
human, or animal, although the following is concerned specifically with trees.
First of all, each tree, like each person, has a personality, desires, and a life
of its own. Trees differ widely in their taste for human contact. Some are
very generous and want to give you all the energy you can take. Others are
weak or ill and need your comforting and healing energy. Some are just
friendly souls who enjoy human company. Others are quite indifferent to
you. You can learn and grow by working with all of them. Try to be open and
respectful, rather than pressing the trees to serve your own purposes. In
this way they will provide you with more than just another source of Chi:
friendship, playful expression, and love.
Trees operate on a longer time scale than do human beings. You can help to
bridge this gap by returning again and again to the same tree, so that a
relationship develops. Visit regularly so that the tree knows when to expect
you and can look forward to seeing you. You may have the distinct
impression that the tree really misses you when you are gone for a longer
time than usual.
Spiritual communion with trees resembles love more than any other human
activity. As such, a quality of sensuality and tenderness should be present.
You do not always have to be in control of the situation. Allow some time to
just relax and melt into the communion. Let the tree lead you into the
wonders of its own inner life. Working with trees in this way can help to ease
sexual frustration. You may find that some of the practices presented here
can be easily adapted for use in lovemaking.
- Practicing with a Tree and the Earth’s Force
a.Use the Palms to Absorb Yin Chi and Help Balance Yang Energy
Morning to noon time is the best time to practice with a tree.
- Assume a Position. Stand or sit one or two feet in front of a tree.
- Open Yourself to a Tree.
Relax and center yourself. Feel
your boundaries soften. Allow
yourself to become more
receptive and somewhat
vulnerable, ready to make
contact with the tree. Feel your
energy field open like a flower,
neither emitting nor absorbing
energy, just becoming open and
available (Figure 2-30).
- Offer a Welcome. Extend
your arms and face the palms of
your hands toward the tree.
Extend your energy toward the
tree with a friendly ‘offering” attitude. When the tree responds by extending
its energy to you, accept it, breathing it into your body with an attitude of
“welcome.” Use your mind and eyes as follows. With the lower part of the
eyes, concentrate on the tip of your nose. With the upper part of the eyes,
look at your palms and at the tree.
Let your intuition guide you as you respond to the tree again with another
“offering” gesture. Proceed with several of these exchanges. Take your time
and really feel what is happening.
Use the left palm, the mind, and the upper part of the eyes to absorb the
- Parallel Tracking. Remain centered within yourself, neither approaching
nor retreating, and simply observe the subtle relationship between you and
the tree. Use meditative concentration to become very absorbed in your
connection with the tree, without actively trying to change or analyze what is
going on. Do not try to deepen the communion or lessen it. Control your
own energy and watch the tree while the tree controls its own energy and
watches you. This is known as Parallel Tracking. Such a neutral state may
occur several times during a session at deep as well as shallow levels of
- Draw and Hold Close. Allow the energy field between you and the tree to
intensify, thicken, and contract to Draw and Hold Close the two of you
together. There may or may not be physical movement involved. The
sensation is that the two of you are being enfolded in a cocoon of energy
while more and more of your inner cores are exposed to each other. Finally
you hold each other in an embrace of deep intimacy.
Drawing and Holding Close often happens spontaneously as the offering and
welcoming escalates to become circulating and sharing, or as the circulating
and sharing moves to deeper and deeper levels.
- Guide the Chi. As with all Healing Tao practices, it is necessary that you
train your eyes and mind to move and guide the Chi. This practice is also
useful in training yourself to recognize and be aware of the quality of the
tree’s energy. Feel the tree’s energy when it enters your body. As you send
it out to the tree, combine it with Human Plane (Cosmic Particle) Energy.
Notice how the energy feels when it returns to you from the tree: enhanced
with a cool, healing quality. Notice also how the quality of the energy
changes after nine, eighteen, 24, and 36 cycles.
Move the upper part of the eyes to guide the Chi slowly up the inside Yin
side) of the left arm, to the left shoulder, the left side of the neck, the left
ear, and the crown. From the crown move the Chi down the right side to the
back side of the right ear, to the right neck, the right shoulder, inside the
right arm, to the right palm. Project the Chi out into the tree trunk. Absorb
the Chi again in a circle (the Yin Energy Circle): 36 cycles for men and 24
cycles for women. (Figure 2-30)
- Extend to a Deeper Level. Now begin to exchange energy with the tree
on a deeper level. To share with the tree on a deeper level means to place a
particular part of your body in contact with a particular part of the tree’s
body, and breathing the energy back and forth between them. To circulate
now means guiding the energy along a path which passes through both of
your bodies and returns to its starting point. You can guide the Chi as in (6)
above. Eventually you will discover many different patterns are possible.
- Drawing and Holding Back to End Gracefully. Drawing and Holding Back
is very important. It prevents you from absorbing more energy from the tree
than you can harmoniously utilize. It also prevents you from draining too
much energy from a small or weak tree, or leaving such a tree with too
much of your unprocessed negative energy. In addition, it seals off the
connections you have made with the tree so that energy is not leaked into
the environment after you leave. All in all, it makes for an aesthetically
complete meditation and shows respect for the tree. When you have had
enough and wish to begin your return to normal consciousness or just to a
less deep level of communion, try to do so slowly and gradually so as not to
disturb the beauty of what you have just shared. The sensation is one of
gradually returning to yourself, sorting out the energy that belongs to you
from the energy that belongs to the tree, and re-establishing the boundary
It is important to note at this time that if, after you have done the healing,
you still feel a lot of energy in your hands, close the crown point to seal it so
that your healing energy will not continue to flow out.
Trees have a great liking for human contact and you will probably be ready
to go long before the tree is ready to have you leave.
a. You need to gradually withdraw your attention from the contact, and turn
your attention more upon yourself.
b. As you do this, much of the shared energy will be drawn into your body.
When this happens, just “push back” at the stream of tree energy to prevent
most of it from entering your body while allowing your human energy to
c. Then, when your polarities reverse, allow the tree energy to flow back into
the tree, but keep your own conscious energy within your body.
d. After a couple of exchanges, the tree will get the idea and begin to
cooperate with you. In a little while you will be fully back in your own body
and ready for the closing.
e. To disengage from a powerful circulation pattern, gradually focus your
attention on the navel area, the place to end the meditation. As the energy
collects there, allow any excess to flow into the tree.
f. If the tree tries to feed you energy from another point, push back at this
flow in the manner described above.
g. Eventually the pattern will cease, and you will be sharing energy with the
tree at the selected point. Now you can sort out what energy belongs to you
and what belongs to the tree to complete the drawing back.
h. When you are very deep into communion with a tree, you will probably
have “too far to go” to draw back in one step. Instead, after a partial
drawing and holding back, resume circulating and sharing, but in a less
intense manner. Gradually, after several of these steps, you will some wholly
back to yourself.
- Closing. Always end with a closing. The closing is a precise and somewhat
abrupt gesture which breaks the connection, locks into place any healing
that may have occurred, and imparts a feeling of good will, all within a
second or two. The closing may be a movement, a sound, or just a change
in the subtle energy field, such as the clap of the hands, or a nod of the
head. A smooth movement of a fist in an upward arc, ending with a little
downward punch is very effective. The sounds “Ho” or “Amen” used to end
prayers are also examples of closing gestures. So is a firm handshake, or a
little squeeze at the end of a hug. Follow this with a little wave of the hand,
or a quick kiss on the trunk to complete your closing.
Sections (7), (8), and (9) above are used to intensify, slow down, and end
the exercises below and can be used at any time to end your communication
with your selected tree.
b. Use the Fingers to Absorb Yang Energy to Help Balance the Yin
Energy (Figure 2-29)
- Stand approximately one to two feet in front of a tree. Move slowly and
smoothly, gradually approaching the tree. Feel the field of energy
surrounding you become thick like honey.
- Extend your arms out toward the tree with your palms facing the tree
and your fingers extended.
- As you slowly adjust your position to be closer and closer to the tree, less
“honey” separates you from the bright energies found at its core.
- Similarly, your own radiance is revealed to the tree.
- At the same time the honey-like energy surrounding you acts like a
protective cocoon, and your awareness of the outside world fades. As you
arrive at the tree and wrap yourself around it in a big hug, your radiant
energies link up with each other and you may lose yourself for a few
moments in the bliss of union.
- After making contact in this
way, you may need to hold still
for a while until the new, deeper
connections between you and
the tree stabilize and simplify.
Soon you will find yourself in
the state of parallel tracking
described previously from which
circulating and sharing will
- Feel the energy of the tree first. When you feel the tree’s Chi, use the
mind, eyes, and lower part of the eyes to concentrate on the tip of the nose.
The upper part of the eyes looks at the tips of the fingers and the tree.
- Use the left fingers, the mind, and the upper part of the eyes to absorb
the Chi inward.
- Move the upper part of the eyes slowly to guide the Chi up the outside
(Yang side) of the left arm, to the left shoulder, the left side of the neck, and
the left ear to the crown. Move the energy down the right side beginning
with the back side of the right ear, to the right neck, the right shoulder,
outside the right arm, to the right palm and fingers. Project the energy out
from the fingers, combine it with Cosmic Particle Energy, and guide it into
the tree trunk. Absorb it again in a circle. Men repeat the cycle 36 times;
women repeat the cycle 24 times. (See Figure 2-30)
- If you wish to end the experience at this or any point, follow the
procedures of (a)(7), (8), and (9) above to intensify, slow down, and finally
break your connection with the tree.
The Yang Energy Circle will help you become more sensitive to chronic and
more superficial pain as well as the energy in the Yang organs (large and
small intestines, gall bladder, bladder, and stomach).
c. Use the Palms to Absorb Tree Chi; the Yin Side
- Sit or stand approximately one to two feet in front of a tree.
- Extend your arms out toward the tree with your palms facing the tree.
- Feel the energy of the tree first. When you feel the Chi of the tree, use
your mind, eyes, and palms to absorb the Chi through your palms. Move the
Chi up the inside (the Yin sides) of both arms to both shoulders, both sides
of the neck, and the left and right ears, to the crown. From the crown move
the energy down the Functional Channel to the mid-eyebrow, throat, heart,
solar plexus, navel, and the cauldron behind the navel.
- Continue to move the energy down from the cauldron to the perineum, to
the soles of the feet, and then approximately ten feet into the ground.
- Bring the energy up to the roots of the tree, then up into the tree trunk.
Feel your energy flow through the tree, then emerge from the trunk into
your palm. Repeat the cycle nine, eighteen, 24, or 36 times.
- Practice sending your energy through the tree trunk from the right palm,
through the tree, to the left palm, and from the left palm, through the tree,
to the right palm. Men should practice for 36 cycles; women should practice
for 24 cycles. It is most important to feel your energy penetrate the tree.
- Practice distinguishing
different parts of the tree. Start
with the upper trunk. Send your
energy into the trunk and feel it
reverberate. Slowly kneel down
to practice with the lower trunk.
Then practice with the roots of
the tree. Feel and exchange the
force with the tree.
d. Absorb Tree Chi through
- Stand approximately two to
three feet in front of a tree with
your arms at your side. Feel the
tree’s aura. (Figure 2-32) If you
do not feel it, you can move in
- When you feel the tree’s aura, use your crown to absorb the energy. The
tree’s balanced energy can feel very gentle and soft and have a very
powerful healing effect.
- Draw the tree energy into
your crown and let it flow down
through the Thrusting Channels
or through the Functional
Channel to the perineum, then
down to both feet. Move the
energy out through the soles of
your feet into the ground. Bring
the energy from the ground to
the roots of the tree, then up its
- Feel yourself absorb the Earth
Energy and the tree energy.
(Figure 2-33) Feel them purify
your energy, removing negativity
and sick energy. When you feel it
emerge from the trunk of the
tree, absorb the Human Plane (Cosmic Particle) Energy, and return the
energy to your crown. You will feel the combined energies nourish your
brain, glands, and organs. Repeat the process nine, eighteen, or 36 times.
e. Share with the Tree
from the Heart
In this pattern tree
energy is run through the
arms and heart center. It
may be used to clear a
healer’s arms of sick
energy accumulated in
work, or just to open the
- Assume any
comfortable position in
which your hands can
easily reach a branch.
- Reach one arm out to touch the tree with the palm or fingertips. Feel the
vital energy just under the bark and make contact with it, allowing some
time for the contact to develop.
- After a while you will feel the sharing begin as a gentle breathing back
and forth between your hand and the tree.
- Gradually extend the process until you are breathing energy through the
entire length of the arm, back and forth from your heart center to the tree.
Let this back and forth sharing go on for some time.
- Next, get the other arm involved. It may rest on the same branch, near
the other hand, or it may rest on an entirely different branch.
- Allow the tree energy to flow in along one arm, mix with your own
energy in the heart center, and flow out the other arm. Every so often
reverse the direction of flow in one or both arms.
- For a deeper experience try extending the flow from the heart down to
the navel, letting it go from tree to heart, to navel, and back.
- Where does the energy go after it leaves your hands and enters the tree?
By following it with your mind, you will begin to discover more about the
subtle anatomy of the tree.
- You may find blocked or congested areas that you can work on by
running energy out one hand and into the other. Feel the tree’s response to
your efforts, and let intuition guide you.
f. Absorb Earth Energy
- Create warmth in your navel and bring the energy up to the crown.
- Project the Chi out into the top of the trunk of the tree. Enter the tree
and feel that you have a connection with it.
- During this process you can stand farther away from the tree (ten to
thirty feet). As your practice continues you can project your energy easily
from far away into the tree. Let the tree take in your negative or sick
energy. The energy you receive back will be balanced.
- Let your energy flow down the trunk of the tree to its roots and into the
Earth. (Figure 2-34) Let the Earth Energy purify your energy. Bring this
combined energy up through the soles of your feet to the perineum, then up
through the Thrusting Channels, or through the Governor Channel running
up the spine. Let the energy flow up to the crown and project it outward
again. Repeat the process nine, eighteen, or 36 times.
The more you repeat the
process, the more your energy
will refine and increase. You will
notice the Thrusting Channels
and the Microcosmic Orbit are
cleaner and brighter. Once you
have established a good
connection with the tree, you
can send your sick energy to
the tree from a far distance to
refine your energy or improve
g. Meditate While Sitting
Under a Tree
Once you have developed the
ability to feel the tree’s Chi, you
can sit under the tree and
meditate. Draw the tree’s
energy into you through the
stations (points) of the
Microcosmic Orbit. (Figure 2-