Tree-hugging isn't just for hippies or conservationists. It really is good for you – and it’s been scientifically proven.
In his book Blinded by Science (www.blindedbyscience.co.uk), Matthew Silverstone explains that it’s all to do with the tree's vibrational properties, which affect us physiologically and psychologically. These vibrational properties and patterns are different from our own, and when we hug a tree, it absorbs our negative energies while we, in turn, are able to absorb the tree's beneficial qualities. Tree-hugging has been shown to specificially benefit depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), headaches, muscle weakness, stress and poor concentration. Nor does it take effort - all you need is about 30 minutes and an open mind. Here's how:
* Find some old, healthy trees - the older, the better. Parks and forests are good places to start. It needs to be somewhere quiet and peaceful, where you can step outside your normal reality and not be interrupted.
* Forget any preconceptions as you walk among the trees. Use all of your five senses: smell the leaves, look at the foliage stretching above you, listen to the rustling of the leaves, touch the bark - talk to the trees, if you feel like it.
* Now, find your tree. Move around the trees until you instinctively feel that a particular tree is the right one for you today, one that seems to suit your mood or feelings.
* Greet the tree and ask if you can hug it. Put your arms around it, as far as they can stretch, your face against the trunk, your third eye point centred to the middle of the tree. Close your eyes and relax. The tree will do the rest. There is a source of comfort and wisdom here, gleaned from decades of absorbing universal energies.
* When you have fully experienced facing the tree, turn around so that your back is against the tree, and put your arms around it, behind you. This will feel quite different to you. It is also beneficial. When you have finished, thank the tree. You may wish to hug more than one tree. Different trees offer differing experiences: some emanate strength, others a quiet wisdom or tranquillity.
By practising tree-hugging, you’ll be following a long a tradition that has been observed all around the world.
Some forests have even become famous for their healing powers, such as Finland's Koli National Park. The BBC website has a link to a four minute video where a journalist puts this to the test (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p014qwf2). Finnish researchers presented a report to the World Forestry Congress in 2010 claiming that the tranquillity of these trees helped people fight cancer, and actually encuraged the production of cells capable of fighting the disease.
In Japan, people practise 'forest bathing', where they spend quiet time absorbing the wisdom of ancient forests, taking long walks among the trees to stimulate their immune system. In Taoism, students are encouraged to meditate among trees, and it is believed that the trees will absorb negative energies, replacing them with healthy ones. Trees are seen as a source of emotional and physical healing, and themselves as meditators, absorbing universal energies.
The vibrational energy of trees is also studied in northern Italy in the Sacred Forests near the ecovillage of Damanhur (see http://www.damanhur.org/philosophy-a-research/research/1429-the-music-of-the-plants). Since 1976, the electromagnetic changes in the surface of leaves and roots have been measured by specially designed equipment. This is then translated into music by laboratories, using synthesisers. 'The singing trees', as they are known, have even been shown to prefer certain kinds of music! Musicians come to these Sacred Forests to perform at plant concerts, accompanied by melodies produced by the trees. Concerts of Tree Music have been held not just in Damanhur, but also in Europe, India, Canada, and the United States.
So - hug a tree today! You have nothing to lose except a bad mood and possibly some physical and emotionial problems.