I am fascinated with trees. There’s new and maybe not so new research showing us their complexity and their extensive ecosystems that exist beyond our ordinary senses. We know they communicate through their root systems to each other. They send nutrients to a family member in need. They will also share water. Roots are connected by a mycorrhizal hypha network of fungi creating a kind of highway and inner net within the soil beneath the forest floor. Debris and leaves, insects and critters, microscopic nutrients and various species exist within the canopy of a forest and its layers. Mother trees help and support their young ones. And did you know they can cry when in need?
My guest this week, Lois Grasso, author, and transformational breath practitioner spoke about using the power of our breath as a healing modality. We can get stuck emotionally and hold our breath, maybe not dramatically but enough to block our connection to the best part of self. Since this blog and podcast series: Holistic Nature of Us is concerned with all the parts functioning optimally here within us as a human being and within all aspects of this planet, I wondered about trees. Air is an element that governs this planet. There would be no breathable air without our plant kingdoms.
She got me thinking about trees, our relationship with them and how they are suffering today. I read a report through my Master Gardener office last week that trees here in CT are suffering. In certain areas, they got hit two years in a row with gypsy moth infestations. The first year of the moths we were in our second year of a drought. Both factors weaken a tree, both factors open the door to their demise. When growing by roadways, they pose a hazard if and when they should topple over. The cost to remove them is also a factor that towns and the state have to consider for budget concerns.
But let’s get back to breath and breathing. Our first breath gives us life. Without our breath, we cease to exist. Our first responders know only too well that evaluating our breathing is critical to triage work. Life and death are only one breath away. How does a tree breathe? The leaves on trees and needles on our conifers have narrow slits on their undersides, openings that allow them to exhale and inhale. Roots can do the same thing too.
” A tree breathes through its leaves using chlorophyll, the substance that makes leaves green. Chlorophyll absorbs CO2 from the air and uses it alongside water to break down minerals absorbed through the tree’s roots. While trees do not technically breathe, respiration is comparable to inhaling air into the lungs and photosynthesis is comparable to exhaling.” (From youtube video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXTYZpZNqrA)
We inhale O2 and exhale CO2 due to complex cellular processes. Trees use CO2 to make food and release O2 in this process which is photosynthesis.
What happens at night when the sun goes down? Since photosynthesis relies on sunlight to
ignite the metabolic processes within plants, photosynthesis ceases and trees breathe in O2. too.
So they exhale O2 during the day but need O2 at night.
We take breathing for granted. Breathing can be soft or filled with emotion. There’s nothing like the soft gentle breath of a newborn babe. You could say breath is connected to touch. Trees breathe and we can feel the breath of a forest that maybe quite literally takes our breath away.
I hope you will breathe with more mindfulness today and awareness that trees breathe too. During the day we have a breathing relationship with them: we breathe in O2 and exhale CO2 while trees breathe in our CO2 and give us O2. We are connected in very profound ways.
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