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I just watched a fascinating video on how trees communicate with each other. They use their roots and share their knowledge across species as well as between older and younger trees.

I have always felt an affinity with trees. As a child I used to build dens in the forest near my house. I always felt calmer and more at home in my tree house. During one of my first shiatsu workshops we were connecting with the different elements. I was working with Wood (or Tree) energy and was drawn towards a large tree. I was amazed how I was able to sink my awareness down into her roots and feel myself burrowing into the earth. I could also feel the resilience and stability of the trunk and the reaching of the branches upwards in all direction. Now we understand that trees communicate through fungi in their roots. These networks function not just among the same species of trees, but amongst all trees in the woods.

Trees in sunset by Rosa Lia

Trees in sunset by Rosa Lia

It is a complex system: rather like the neural network in our brains: neurons and axons sending messages back and forth. The researcher in the video refers to the older trees being like mother trees: they share their knowledge with the younger trees. When they start to die, they need time to move some of their legacy to the new generation. This makes us realise that the modern practice of planting lots of young trees of the same species and cutting them all down at the same time interferes with the process of sharing knowledge. Another important aspect is that trees share knowledge across species. It is important to encourage biodiversity: not just having different age trees but different species: ‘diversity is what gives the forest resilience’

And what of us humans? Can diversity give us resilience? We live in a world with many races, cultures and landscapes. Maybe through truly accepting this diversity we can develop resilience and find solutions to global problems. Many of us do this already, supported by the internet, rather like our global brain: a vast network of neurons and axons. I work in many different countries and I feel that my work has developed as I’ve learnt from different cultures and traditions.

However, sadly there is still much fear of opening up to the unknown. We only need to see recent cases such as Katie Hopkins’ comments on UK morning TV about choosing her child’s playmates based on their names , Marie le Pen in France likening the sight of Muslims in veils to Nazi occupation, and the comments made by a male commentator at Wimbledon about the female champion Marion Bartilo’s looks.

But it’s only through being open to other people’s viewpoints that we discover new ways to see, that we find new solutions and that we can inhabit our world together peacefully.

Like the trees, we can also learn from our elders. Modern cultures tend to value the the wisdom of the elders less than in the past. They are often isolated in nursing homes rather than continuing to be engaged with the community. In cases where this happens, such as pensioners going into schools to read and be with children, it supports everyone. We need to keep finding ways of passing our own knowledge from generation to generation: and support those elders who continue to be actively involved in their communities.

Let’s not be afraid, but like the trees embrace diversity: learning from and valuing everyone in our global community.

I hope you enjoy the photos. They were taken by my lovely daughter Rosa Lia.

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