Appreciating Nature’s Reciprocity

By Canopy Team on March 25, 2020

“Between a human and a tree is the breath.
We are each other’s air.”
– Margaret Bates

When we step outside and take a breath, we are accepting the gift of oxygen from the trees and plants around us. As we exhale, we provide carbon dioxide to the nearby trees in return.

In times of stress it can be helpful to focus on the interconnectedness of all beings. Think about what is being offered to you by the living things around you, and what you offer in return. As you move under the shade of healthy trees, take time for this Reciprocal Breathing exercise as a way to say “thank you” to the trees.

Reciprocal Breathing

Gaze up into the sky and feel the energy being given by the sun. Observe the trees nearby that are absorbing the sun’s energy just as you are. Those trees are using the sunlight to make plant sugar, and are releasing oxygen into the air through photosynthesis.

Breathe in deeply, accepting the oxygen that the trees are giving. Exhale carbon dioxide which the trees need to live. Air enters and exits the tree through stomata. These are tiny openings on the underside of the tree’s leaves. 

Gently hold a leaf on the branch of the tree. Bring your nose close to the leaf as you breathe in the tree’s oxygen then exhale carbon dioxide into the leaf. Thank the tree for all the life-giving benefits it provides.

As you do this exercise, think of the reciprocal relationship between you and the tree. This same reciprocity exists between all beings. The more care we show to nature, the more we will receive in return. Think of this every time you go outside, and feel yourself connect with all that is.

The source for this exercise is Forest Bathing: A Sky and Earth Touched Me Wellness Exercise.

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