The Story of A Tree
The Power of Playful Visualization

Call on a tree and let it speak to you, with its qualities, from humbleness to magnificence.
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Zena Takieddine
February 06, 2024 | 8 min read
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Once upon a time, there was a strong and beautiful tree. It had deep roots that extended in all directions across the ground, thick roots that dug into the earth and spread out, becoming thinner and finer, and many more. The trunk was straight and sturdy, thick and tall, with dark brown bark textured in vertical lines and crackly layers. The branches of the tree extended wide open into the sky, with beautiful green leaves that shined in the sun. It was the season to bear fruit, and colorful spheres hung in bunches and clusters.

Was it an apple tree? 

An orange tree? A pomegranate tree? 

Was it a fig tree? Gosh, I can’t remember. What kind of tree do you see?

And while this beautiful strong tree stood tall and glorious, providing shade and back support for whoever was passing by for a picnic or a rest, the wind would rustle its leaves and the branches would very gently sway. If you listened carefully you might hear birds tweeting and squawking. Certainly, if you happened to pass by at sunrise or sunset, the birds would be loud and busy! Listen, what do hear?

On stormy nights when the wind would speed and hurry and rush in a million directions all at once, my goodness how the tree would bend and bend, but never break. It would bend to the right, and then swish, it would bend to the left, and then swish, it would bend backward, and then swish, it would bend forward. From all that stormy weather, it seemed every branch shook against the hurried movement of the wind! So much chaos and noise. 

A fruit would fall to the ground.

A seed would sink into the earth.

A tiny small seed. Round and compact. Utterly silent. Would huddle down low, deep in the soil, deep in the dark, deep in the quiet. Away from the storm and the noise above ground.

Shhhhh…. The little seed slept. Nothing felt more soothing than the dark.

And when the sun shone again, the warmth seeped through the soil and warmed the seed.

And when there was a light drizzle of rain, the gentle tapping of soft water on soft earth. Tap tap tap.

Then the rain got heavier, clap clap clap!

Then it quieted down again. And slowly…. Slowly… from the tiny little seed, sprouted up a little stalk, breaking through the ground, a bright green little thing, soft and spiraling.

It gently spiraled to the left. It gradually spiraled to the right. It got thicker and stronger. It got taller and wider. The tree grew and grew. Reaching with strong deep roots, higher and higher into the sky.

And there it was, a strong and beautiful tree. Was it on a mountaintop? Was it in the valley? Was it near a wild river or was it in a city park? What’s the tree that you see?

Which part of you is touching the ground right now, as you read this? 

Can you send imaginary roots into the ground? Feel how that might be.

What happens in your body? In your spine? Rooting down to rise up, and to breath, and to blossom. 

The seeds fall into the earth, sacred time underground, only to rise up, again, feeling the ground supporting, feeling the sun shining, feeling the water flowing, feeling the air providing. 

Isn’t it amazing?

I use this story of the tree a lot during my yoga workshops with refugee women and children. We all stand tall together like a forest. It is a way to create a connection to nature and to create resilience in the middle of the storm.

We call on imagination too! It’s fun when that happens. There is excitement in imagining different trees. How would an olive tree look? How about a pine tree? How about a cactus? 

Unlike a classical yoga class, in this storytelling approach, there is playfulness and permission to be silly and no such thing as ‘the right posture’. What matters is this:

Opening up awareness to the ground and connection to the ground.

Opening up awareness of the sense of space and the capacity to occupy space.

Opening up awareness of the body and the capacity to feel strength structure and flow in the body.

Opening up the imagination, the capacity to visualize sounds and smells and colors, different weather, different landscapes.

All of these are ways that expand a person’s experience of life, and expand sensorial awareness and connection to nourishment. And the body responds! The immune system responds! It is a big mystery, how our thoughts and imagination have a direct effect on our felt experience in our nerves and hormones. So, through the image of the tree, we can grow many strengths! 

Nothing has been more valuable to me, when offering yoga for trauma workshops, than calling on that graceful and sturdy, rough and real presence of trees. I rely on them a lot.

Nature in general is the resource. Sometimes, we are in the middle of the city with hardly a tree in sight. A simple house plant – provided that it’s real, it has prana, it is alive – can serve as a reminder for our mirror neurons to connect with that innate vitality. 

Whether it’s a single leaf that might catch your attention and soften the stiffness in your body, or the sense of the tall body of the tree that might inspire your own sense of dignity and alignment, or perhaps the colorful fruit that awakens your gratitude and connection to abundance, the metaphors are so generous.

Adding movement to the imagery gives also the benefit of engaging the muscles and the skeletal structure. From standing tall as a tree to kneeling on the ground in a child’s pose as the seed. To gradually grow tall again, it is a reminder of the cycle of life. And when the storms rage while up in the tree, the spine benefits from stretching in different directions – front to back, left to right, and side to side, as well as up and down. 

The story of the tree intentionally includes the pendulation that we see in nature. The sway between noise and silence, between movement and stillness. These are core practices for improving the capacity of autonomic nervous system regulation and cultivating resilience. Ultimately, the tree is life itself.

There is so much benefit from visualizing a tree. 

Close your eyes and give it a go…

A tree… feel your own body shapeshifting as you imagine the tree of your choice…. And as you imagine the tree engaging with the elements, rain, and sun, earth and wind, space…. What happens to you? 

Let this be a meditation break for you, whenever the world feels like it’s too much, or like it’s too little. Call on a tree and let it speak to you, with its qualities, from humbleness to magnificence.

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Zena Takieddine

Co Founder, Wellness Facilitator
About The Author

Zena is Body Mind You Holistic Wellness’s co-founder and somatic lifestyle medicine facilitator. In her 30’s, she began volunteering at refugee camps in Lebanon offering them the knowledge and wisdom of Yoga. She trained in multiple somatic therapy modalities and is a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner.

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