If you can plant a tree today, that’s wonderful. If not, you can still grow your understanding of nature through this simple outdoor meditation exercise.

The first step is to walk outside. Leave the house, and find a tree. Don’t worry, you won’t have to hug it (unless you’d like to!). All you need to do is approach the trunk of the tree, no matter how big or small it is, and place the palm of your hand against the bark. 

Breathe deeply. Keep your hand on the trunk, focusing on the lines and swirls that pattern the bark. Think of these lines as fingerprints, and recognize that no two trees are alike. Close your eyes, and visualize the entire lifespan of the tree, from sapling to adulthood. Observe the branches above your head- how they shoot in different directions, yet all originate from the same trunk that you’re touching now.

This exercise has much in common with the concept of the Tree of Life- a legendary, many-branched tree that represents the idea that all life on earth is related. 

The Tree of Life symbol has been used in science, religion, philosophy, and mythology.