I did a lot of research on the brain for my book, “Why Zarmina Sings.” I had to find out how the brain worked under stress and how the brain worked differently when it was not causing the release of cortisol and other stress related hormones.
My research led to HeartMath Institute. The scientists of HeartMath Institute write on the “coherence” between the heart and brain and how this coherence can increase in the presence of trees.
The two most vivid memories that I have from my stress induced childhood involve trees.
In the first memory, I was sitting in the very simple tree fort we made that consisted of three two by fours at various locations in the tree. I can still feel the summer breeze on my face and feel the tree’s branches under my arms where the two by fours ended. I can remember my mother calling me in to dinner with that hopeless trill behind her words. I can feel the word “dinner” pierce my heart as she called me and I was transported to her own loneliness and despair.
This is one of my very few memories as a young kid. If you ask me who my first, second or third grade teachers were I could not help you. But I remember this moment in the tree. I remember this moment and the peace I felt in the tree before getting called into dinner. My brain relaxed in the presence of this tree. It worked better and could download the memories of that moment more easily, unobstructed by the normal barrage of stress hormones.
When I returned years later, the tree was no longer there but the trees that remained were full of memories for me. In fact, the whole reason for returning was not the houses or the people that lived in my neighborhood, it was to say hello to the trees. They remembered me and I remembered them.
The second memory was a simple moment alone in the backyard under some young pines bordering the fence. This moment of peace is seared in my memory as a respite from chaos.
I know I had some positive moments in my childhood, but none so sweet, quiet and peaceful as the moments with trees.
If you want to reconnect with trees or reclaim your childlike awareness of trees, check out this amazing book on trees, The Wisdom of the Trees by Jen Ward. And go out and appreciate the trees near you. The more we appreciate them, the more they (and we) will thrive.