I’m in a sprawling house in the Santa Cruz forest for a three day writing retreat. We’re not studying anything. Our brilliant teacher has set up this work weekend as a time to do focused writing for twelve hours each day, subject to our individual needs to do mundane human things like eat. It’s great to be free of typical life distractions, but what I’m noticing most is the energetic field created by twelve writers writing, the trees that surround us seeming to hold us in their web of support.
This feeling reminds me of community acupuncture where a random group of people rests in lounge chairs, stuck with needles, a deep healing force permeating us all. When my acupuncturist changed to this model, I was a bit miffed. I liked feeling special, her whole hour devoted to me, lying on a massage table in a private room, a lone porcupine. I thought I’d be bothered by the group energy in the community acupuncture room because I tend to be sensitive to the energy of others. Community acupuncture didn’t feel personal.
Yet in the soft, quiet community acupuncture room, I realized it is not the energy of everyone that is the problem. It is the focus or intent of those who surround us. When everyone is there to give or receive healing, there is an expansion of positive intention. We heal together. The energy holds us and makes it easier, just as we often find it easier to stay open and present in a group meditation. Alone we fidget and the mind flickers.
Those of us who are sensitive are often absorbing anger, frustration or sadness from others. We are jangled when we walk down the street. Rap music vibrates in the car next to us, a siren blares, a horn honks. This is not the nature of the writers, the meditators nor the acupuncture patients. We are holding a single intention, and this supports all of us.
I also used to like a certain “appropriate” space between my yoga mat and the mats next to me. In a distinctly non-yogic fashion I would place my mat as far away from others as I could, irritated as a latecomer asked us all to move so they could squeeze themselves in. As I attended more and more crowded classes, an inch or less between the mats, placed like tile flooring with literally a grout edge separating us, I experienced the most amazing connectivity. Yes, we were sweating on each other, and yes, sometimes I almost got kicked in the head, but sometimes we held onto each others’ shoulders as we did a chorus line version of tree pose, our fellow yogis providing support. We formed a sense of harmonious connected effort, each according to their ability. The tendency to judge others or compare myself to the grace and beauty around me lessened as I became part of this group energy operating as one. As we came to a joyous completion, sweat dripping down the walls, sunlight from the windows streaming through the silver thermal mist from 150 sweltering bodies lying on the floor in savasana, my heart burst open. I could see the joy in the smiling faces around me, separation dissolved, spirit everywhere.
We can’t all live in the forest, or in an ashram, but we can notice where in our life we feel supported and connected—where the whole group energy is in fact more powerful and healing than our individual selves. We can hold positive intent with likeminded others, and stop dwelling on the separations, the challenges and the discord.
We can also take the time to visit the places where nature receives us, even if it is our local park. The trees know the joy of connectivity. Through their roots they communicate and support each other. The research on this is fascinating.
As we spend time with trees we can remember our own connectivity. We can literally hug the trees and send them some positive vibes, balanced with the good, grounded energy they share with us. This is so essentially important as our world burns with chaos and sharp stubbornness in beliefs and philosophies. We appear to be divided and polarized. We are suffering from isolation and anger, separation and hopelessness. We can choose experiences that deepen that erroneous imprint, or we can choose experiences of love, connection and energetic support.