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Tree-Centred Practice, Part 2.

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

Instinct and Tree Spirit


In Focusing we talk about the felt-sense. Referring to inner senses that can be felt physically within the body. 'Felt physically' means that they can be experienced in the form physical sensations. We can try to describe these sensations with words when we notice them. We may use words like heavy, light, tangled, hollow, round, sharp, squishy. Felt-senses live in our parts and embody our life experiences. The felt-senses are held within the deepest parts of our being and they know the whole truth of our experiences. They are the keepers of experience and of memories. They live deeper than our feelings and thoughts. Our feelings and thoughts also live within our parts of and are usually what we notice first as our internal dialogue. The felt-senses are more illusive and mysterious and they live below the feelings and thoughts that we are used to experiencing and engaging with.

Felt-senses can be viewed as beings, and relational beings. They react and interact with each other continually. They also relate to stimulus from our environment and experiences such as people we interact with, the feelings and words of those people and even the felt-senses of those people. All of the things that we are conscious of responding to, our felt-senses are also responding to. They are in the big conversations of our lives, yet we may not be noticing them. We call the practice of noticing the felt-sense Focusing. As it implies, Focusing is the practice of focusing inwards an listening to the felt-senses, or more appropriately, noticing the feeling of the communication from these senses.



Felt senses also have a sensing field. Another way to understand our sensing field is to think of it as our instinct. An example of using our instinct could be if we are walking down a dark street and we have a feeling we are being followed. We are experiencing our ability to sense our surrounding environment and assessing our safety within it. In this example we will experience anxiety, we might feel frozen or feel the need to run. What we are reacting to is a feeling generated from our instinct, fear. Our felt-senses embody our core needs and in this example, the need for safety and self-preservation is expressed through our instinct.

Instinct suggests the presence of an innate, natural, operating system within us. 'My gut instinct told me not to...' or 'I listened to my gut instinct and it said...' and 'I feel it in my gut...' are common phrases I am sure we have all said or heard someone say at some point in our lives. We usually associate instinct with self-preservation and the our basic needs of our species, survival, connection and safety. Instinct will inform us of our environment and circumstances, in any situation pleasant or unpleasant. It will demand our attention and communicate our needs. In the present day we live a relatively safe life. In houses we sleep, protected from the weather and wild animals and we have shops full of food and drink. We have unlearned to listen to our instinct. Lost touch with the deeper felt senses of our being. Yet it seems more now than ever before we need to communicate with our sensing field.



Connection is also a basic human need and we will seek out to have this need met one way or another. The environment we explore to have this need met will be determined by the kind of connection we need. We need connection with our own species, we need connection with animals, we need connection with nature, we need connection with learning. We are driven by instinct to seek out depths of relation in these and more areas and our instinct will alert us to potential opportunities for connection. The need for connection is rooted in a need for relation and relationship. To relate to some other beingness, outside of ourselves so we don't feel alone. Relation offers comfort, warmth, security, community, shared language, shared experience, memories.

Our instinct informs us that there is something there. Something will suggest someone, some animal or some energy that is near us. We will react to our instinct, assess our environment and either feel okay and carry on having decided that there is no danger. We can practice noticing our instinct in nature. The first sign may be that we suddenly take notice of our environment, we notice that something has changed. We may become aware of a difference in temperature or see something out of the corner of our eye. We may feel a distinct change in the vibration of energy of the land or sense a presence near by. The quality in the texture of how we experience our instinct will inform us as to how to engage with the situation we find ourselves in.

When we stay within the sensing experience for a few seconds before responding with an action, we are keeping instinct company, we are in connection with our sensing field. We are in a space of complete presence in a moment of receiving, and we are with our body as it encounters contact. This is the space we inhabit when we are in connect with tree spirit energy.


Tree Spirit Energy

When we are in the presence of tree spirit energy our, our sensing field, our instinct will receive communication from the environment and inform us. Staying present within our sensing field, will allow us to stay close to our felt-senses as they encounter the tree spirits. We will notice the physical sensations of felt-senses within our body. It is important to notice these physical sensations and be present with them. It is important to notice the quality of the sensation as they will convey communication from the tree spirits.

The more we practice noticing the voice of our felt-senses, we will begin to understand their own unique language. When we hear our felt-senses speaking through us, we will also begin to hear the voices and language of the tree spirits. And when our felt-senses are encountering the felt-senses of tree beings, we are in connection with tree spirits . The ways in which felt-senses can be physically and emotionally experienced are limitless. Although each of us will find what is usual and familiar for us as we practice. And the more we practice the more we will experience relational depth in our encounters. We have within us highly evolved and sophisticated sensing functions, our natural sensing field, or instinct and our felt-senses. These sensing functions allow our body to communicate with our physical environment and our spiritual environment.


A Step Towards Connection

Within us, we have all of the functions we need for connection and communicate with tree spirits. Felt-sense seeks felt-sense, whether that is another felt-sense within us, or senses out-with us such as tree, animal or person. As humans beings, we gravitate towards nature, towards natural life and the elements. We have a need within us for deeper connection with our environment. This need is fundamental to our self-preservation. When we are in the company of trees we need only to focus on our instinct, our sensing field, and to be open to the presence of the physical trees and their spirits. Connection and communication with tree spirit is very mystical, but this does not have to imply mystery. We all embody mystical ways, they are rooted within us, as they are rooted within the spirits of nature. We have only to take that step in contacting these mysterious parts of our being. And the tree spirits will be there when we arrive.

Yours in the heart of the woodland.

Mags Black.

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