Finding movement in trees – an experiment

Notice that trees sway in the breeze but they also twist slightly in their trunks. This twisting is a result of the young trees twisting to allow the leaves to have better access to the sun. The twisting is part of the mechanics of pumping great volumes of water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves, growing tips and fruit. The pattern of the twisting is often seen in the grain of the bark. Most trees follow a right-hand thread (the spiral goes up to the right and down to the left) some trees spiral in a left-hand thread. Some trees such as palm trees and cabbage trees seem to have a spiral effect in their bark.
To feel this movement for yourself. Select a tree with a trunk of about 30 cm, with a noticeable grain in the bark and place your flat hand quietly on the trunk. You may feel/sense the tree spiralling up and down. This will only be a movement of about 1 mm. Or put about 500grams of force in one spiral direction or the other and feel if the bark seems more compliant in one direction or the other. Compare one tree with another and see if you can decide if they are left-hand or right-hand thread trees. 10-year-old children seem to find the spiralling more easily than adults.
When you are having treatment, the osteopath examines the various twists and turns in your body. The aim of treatment is to restore good movement. In cranial osteopathy we look to restore a “normal cranial rhythm”.
The second experiment is “tree hugging 101”.

When you are a little attuned to the tree movement place one or two hands flat on the trunk and wait. Allow yourself to go into a neutral or meditative state or just a half-asleep state. Wait at least 1-2 minutes and you may get a wave of relaxation passing over you. This sigh or wave of relaxation is the tone of your nervous system shifting. Usually lowering the active, sympathetic, tone to a more receptive, parasympathetic, tone. There is much in the literature and one good place is the Poly-vagal Theory of Stephen Porges. This may be like hugs between humans of more than 20 second that release oxytocin, the feel-good hormone.

 In Cranial Osteopathy, or even in the massage type work, the osteopath listens for that sigh or wave of relaxation to show that the patient is ready for changes to take place.

Further reading could be The Hidden Life of Trees by, a forester, Peter Wohlleben.