I’ll always be a tree-hugger.

Grounding (or ‘earthing’) has been around for a long time. Shaman’s, Celts, Native Americans, Yogi’s and others have believed that it is important to connect with the Earth. For years it’s had a kind of ‘airy-fairy’ aura about it, but more recently, holistic health practitioners, meditators, and even health professionals have begun to advocate the practice claiming that it can absorb natural electrical charges, balance our physical energy, assist with healing and possibly fix everything short of eliminating world hunger.

This morning, I read Dr. Eifrig’s Health & Wealth Bulletin article, ‘Grounding’ and Our Search for Good Science. In it, Dr. Eifrig explores both sides of whether it has validity or if those who promote it are merely trying to sell services and paraphernalia to the uninitiated. At the end, he invited his readers to respond- and I couldn’t resist.

I heard about it back in my early hippie days, when I first (and covertly) hugged a tree.

The tree I chose was a stately Maple that grew in my front yard, so I went out one early summer night and put my arms around it.  Honestly, I felt a little silly and figured I’d hug it and leave before anyone looked out their window and witnessed my strange behavior.

MY Maple Tree

I kicked off my sandals and my bare feet connected with the cool evening earth. The circumference of the fifty-year-old maple was larger than that of a very heavy man, and I had to turn my head to the side in order to be able to stretch out and half encircle it. I laid my face against its rough bark and closed my eyes.

My fingers naturally splayed out and fit perfectly into the little grooves of the trunk. As my chest, belly, hands, arms and face made contact with the old arbor, I pressed my ear to the tree and strained to hear something-perhaps a low humming or a rushing sound like when you listen to a conch shell. Did Native American Indians connect with the earth in this way when hunting their prey? Was this something my ancient ancestors had known about and done with the same regularity as I brush my teeth?

But instead of being actually audible, sound was transmitted to me as a ‘filling up,’ like when you are held captive for a moment in that split-second in the aftermath of a beautiful symphony or when you see a gorgeous sunset.

Although I heard nothing, a force of some sort compelled me to inhale deeply and fill my lungs with the sweet night air. I took in the deep velvety essence of the wood. It was not perfumed like an incense or pungent like a pine forest floor. I somehow ‘felt’ the scent in my nostrils rather than smelled its pheromones, and when I exhaled, what was transferred was an incredible infusion of peace. 

The feeling grew and grew so that after a few moments, I found my cheeks wet with tears. It was as though the branches of that tree enfolded me in its warmth and safety and made me feel like a little girl enveloped in my grandfather’s love. I will never in my life forget that night and those feelings. I have repeated it every now and again, not only with ‘my maple,’ but with younger trees.

I asked my adult son if he ever hugged a tree, and he said he’d climbed many, and felt “sort of the same thing.” And yes, though he didn’t analyze it as I have, he sensed something. Picking up a dresser just doesn’t evoke the same feeling.

So let the scientists, researchers and nay-sayers keep looking for those nail holes. Let them say that I (or people like me) have an overactive imagination, or even that I’m quite mad.  I care not whether what I feel when I hug a tree, or walk barefoot on the beach, or tend my vegetable garden in my bare feet is a ‘placebo’ effect or the result of reading or listening to some esoteric snake charmer in my youth.  

Because in my heart, I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt, that all our frequencies ebb and flow, and that like the hearts of two nurse sharks that beat in tandem when together, and resume their individual beats when apart, we are intimately connected to the earth’s energy and all that is in it!

I’ve included below a poem that I wrote in 2003 for a friend after reading “The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe” by Lynne McTaggart.  It could well apply to my experience as a tree-hugger. 

QUANTUM PHYSICS
I feel the vibration of your body:
A pulling, tugging, surrounding kind of touch
That resonates within my being.
I see your light with my hands.
I taste you and you are warm.
My receptors are turned toward you
Like a sunflower facing the sun.
We suck up the photons of each other
As we collide and merge
And cascade through the spectrum of time
With the speed of light,
Knowing all things together
That we could not know as one.
–Hillary Volk
, 2003

Author: Hillary Volk

I started writing when I was seven, and my ultimate goal was to become a published author. I've partially satisfied this desire by keeping a journal for most of my life. After graduating from Rutgers University, I worked in a large accounting firm as a knowledge manager, which honed my research skills on the newly developing internet. The study of Natural Health and Hygiene has been a passion of mine for over 40 years and I have a particular interest in the connection between behavior and nutrition. This knowledge was immensely helpful during the time I cared for my mother at home until her death in 2016, when I discovered a relationship between ADHD and dementia. I'm currently retired and writing Bread Madness, a book which I hope will help to change our institutionally driven culture into one that is more supportive and compassionate toward the elderly.

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