Tree Healing

by Cleo Dunsmore Buchanan

Some faiths, I learned, have a tradition, called tree wounding. When a person is suffering from a great injury, like the death of their child, or some other catastrophic life event , they may be offered the idea of healing themselves with a tree wounding. So the individual goes and beats on a tree, hard as they can, with a knife, or hatchet. And the tree bleeds sap. 

The tree Suffers. 

Accepts. 

The person returns as often as they can to see this tree and to witness the process of what the tree experiences in healing. 

At first, it is a hacked fresh injury. Then as weeks pass, the wound dries. The wound doesn’t appear to change for a long time. Eventually the tree begins to create a lining around the injuries, where the bark is growing to encapsulate the injury. Each visit reaffirms, “I shouldn’t be done yet. My injury is this fresh. My tree is still alive, it is still there, it is still hurt and still growing. Just like me.”

When I prune my beautiful bonsai tree that has been my friend for thirty years, I am cutting it to pieces. I think reverently, I am pruning it. It will be better. I put it back in its pot with fresh soil and hope my friend will recover. I am loving. Like a friend who is telling you the painful truth. It hurts, but it is meant with loving kindness, to help us to be better.

Beautifully, the tree accepts these injuries. Magically, the tree survives. It does not die. It pauses for a week or two, just maintaining. Then slowly new sprouts appear. And I witness again the joy of its rebirth, and see myself in this mirror. I can lose a huge amount of stuff. It can feel brutal, to shed so many pieces of myself as if they were meaningless. It can seem impossible for me to change so much of who I thought I was. 

I was pruning bushes outside, and I uncovered a flowerbed that the bushes had covered with their lanky thick branches.

As I cut these away, I thought I was doing the work. This is what I am cleaning, I am cleaning this flowerbed, and neatening up these bushes.

Then I found all my pruning had uncovered masses of deadwood and tangled growth. I had uncovered far more old material that was asking for clearing. 

And as I cut out the wood, I prayed. Thank you god for this opportunity, for this healing. I prayed for myself, for the tree, for my friends, all of us in our transformation. 

I recognized the healing that I object to and fight and rebel against. The healing opportunity is there waiting for me, and I reject it.  I can’t have that cut out of me, I can’t disentangle this wood I grew thick so long ago! These scars and deadwood, from my most painful experiences, these are the foundation of my whole personhood. Then to have my dearest friend hack into this place and prune until light and air are in this place instead of my certainty of who I am, all my efforts, my life’s meaning – how dare anyone go there, and expect this of me?

And this noble towering shrub taught me with its humble acceptance, yes I can shed this living part of myself. Yes I can shed this old deadwood at my core of myself.

It showed me joy, it felt the air deep in its core and felt the space for new growth after so many years of suffocating and smothering the neighboring plants. 

Soon it will be bursting with buds and new growth. In its awkward shape, so empty and lacking, it will be pushing to fill those spaces with gratitude and enthusiasm. The bush welcomes the emptiness and recreates itself in peace and joy. 

Thank You for this Headache

This is a meditation I wrote for my first energy work event. It is about allowing ourselves to see our discomforts of life, whatever illnesses or frustrations, as opportunities to check in and find kindness for ourselves.

Thank goodness! I have a reason to stop my whirlwind. Thank you for this moment, when I can pause. I choose now to stop my rushing, I let go of my headlong push to do, to finish, to achieve. I am allowed to rest, in this moment.

As I sit with my headache, with my pain, I tell my body, I am on VACATION. I breathe in the softness and timelessness of vacation.

I may resent that I can’t stay home from work, and curl up in bed. I may be driving a child who is wailing to school. I may be staring down the maw of a day so filled, I can hardly breathe.

Regardless, my headache invites me to pause and see the trees and the sky out the window of my car. I am invited to hold my teacup and feel the warmth in my fingers. I still have time to breathe and exhale all my overwhelm. The discomfort brings me back to my body and I can shift into my lowest gear. I can sit in a blanket of my own understanding and concern. I know how frustrating it is, even if no one else does. I care.

I see my headache, my pain, whatever it is. I appreciate the opportunity to hit reset. Just look at my discomfort and notice it is asking me if I really want this day of appointments. Can I honestly say, yes, even in my lowest gear, walking as slow as I can go, I enjoy this? Is this where I belong and where I want to be?

Wherein is my contribution to this discomfort? What way can I care for myself to avoid this bump? Maybe this day truly has too many appointments, though I love my work. Maybe my work could shift in one direction, and give me greater joy. Maybe I have been led down a path I didn’t chose and am not comfortable with. Maybe I need to practice some gratitude and remember, oh yes, this is where I belong, this is my greatest joy, even worth trudging thru in pain.

And so I see my path anew. I hit the reset button. I check around me, from the perspective of the lowest gear I have. That gear is sometimes more true to myself than every other fast and achieving gear I have. Sometimes I wish I could stay in the lowest gear, be as connected to myself as I am when I have a headache.

Thank you Divine for this gift, seeing my truth, honoring my truth. Thank you Divine for this headache. 


Chakra Class

at the Creative Underground, in downtown Fort Collins -deep healing and exploration of your chakra’s subtle energy

Chakra Class invites you to explore and heal the subtle energy of your own body, one chakra at a time.

Chakras are energy vortexes in the body. They can be damaged by many common negative influences. It is exciting to repair them and watch how our lives grow and shift in response. As we learn to see and alter the energy in our own bodies, so too do we learn to heal others. cleobuchanan.com

Sign up now for seven nights of peace and wonder 

 This is for you. You can stretch this far, its just a short distance. You are ready to begin this voyage. Let it roll into your life!

  • Chakra Class, 7 nights of guided meditations.
  • at The Creative Underground, downtown FoCo.
  • 1636 S College Ave, parking in the rear 
  • Coming soon on Thursdays, 6:30-8:30 
  • 175$ for the full session of seven classes

contact us today to reserve your spot! email Cleo at gramatortoise@gmail.com

To learn more, go to www.cleobuchanan.com

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