Have you ever truly been heard? | Celebrate What's Right With the World
Have you ever truly been heard?
by Tania Carriere
August 15, 2016 - 8:29am

I can’t really explain the experience, which makes it a poor choice for a blog, but I am compelled to write about it because it leaves me with a lasting and comforting sense of being a small part of a much greater design.

I went for a day hike through Jedediah Redwood State park in California. A casual excursion; an item to cross off on my bucket list. What a great magical place, where time seems to stand still! My photographs could have easily been of the common expression of wonder and awe on the other hiker’s faces. It feels like an honour to walk beneath such regal canopies.

As I stood in front of a massive redwood I was surprised to find myself overwhelmed by emotion –tenderness. And in one graceful step I reached my arms wide and leaned in. I just knew that I had to hug her. Luckily, in the depths of these forests, tree hugging seems natural. People seem to get it. And so I did it.

I was completely unprepared for how I felt.

As I leaned my cheek against her formidable bulk, I wasn’t aware that I had questions swirling in my head, anxieties weighing on my heart, worries pushing down on my shoulders. I didn’t come seeking answers or solace. I wasn’t questing for enlightenment or awakening. I was simply out for a walk.

But as I leaned my full weight into her steady being, the way a horse or large dog will do against your leg when it wants comfort and affiliation, I immediately felt her reassurance. And answers, in the form of calm and acceptance, flooded through me. Unspeakably tears sprung to my eyes and I just stood, like a child being held in the comfort of a favourite aunt’s arms.

How can the spirit of a tree be so powerful? It left me speechless. I tell you, the moment my cheek felt that soft bark I could feel the hum of her energy; it was as real as sticking my finger in a socket, or getting caught in a stinging downpour. There was no mistaking the presence and the real physical energy that this magnificent tree had.

I wondered how many people have leaned into her soft bark? How many stories and prayers has she heard? Suddenly I felt so connected to all of the questions that everyone has asked her throughout her 600 year history. Through the slow passing of time and the roller coaster of events that happened around her, her response was as it has always been, to strengthen her roots and reach up to the sky.

And I walked away feeling heard and held. I walked away feeling encouraged and comforted.

By a tree.

How weird is that.

But how profound.

It was like being held by Mother Earth or Gaia. A sense of peace flowed through me. I left thinking “Yes, the world is full of crazy. But maybe my job is not to change the world, maybe my job is to nurture solace, comfort, hope so that we will be standing when the crazy passes”.

Maybe the answer is to strengthen our roots and reach to the sky.

Maybe finding peace, feeling heard and held is the way to survive another day, to have another conversation, to hope another dream.

A powerful sense of having being held and being heard stays with me still.

I talk a lot about the great art of listening to my clients. It is not only about hearing the opinions expressed by another. Can you listen with such capacity that the person speaking feels heard and held? Can you listen while stretching your roots and reaching to the sky?

It is my new mantra. Be the Tree.

In Celebration,


Paula on September 4, 2016 - 10:28am

I love the redwoods. They are truly a magical place. You can sit amount the trees for hours and feel the calming forces. It is truly a place where you feel like a speck in the universe.

EXACTLY how I feel. It has been three visits for me now...I know I will return. It is like going home.

Barb Bozzo on September 4, 2016 - 11:12am

Oh how I love your heartfelt blog, Tania!! "Tree Huggers" are a special breed of people who have a true connection with Nature and the spiritual comfort it offers to those who "believe"! Just got back from a visit with friends in Idaho (originally from California) and was told that "tree huggers" are made fun of there. How sad that they live in such an extraordinary setting of Nature and yet have blocked themselves from ever experiencing Her glorious comfort and strength. I love your reference to the tree's "soft bark" and feeling the "hum of her energy"! The moss must have been her softening touch, to make you fully commit to your embrace. Your ears and heart were opened to hear her reassuring hum!! Yes, truly listening is an art and is so important to strengthen our relationships in life. I have a magnet that I have placed within sight each day and it simply says "What people really need is a good listening to" by Mary Lou Casey!!

Barb, I love that magnet! So true and I see people stretch and grow before my eyes when I am coaching them... And the truth is, contrary to popular belief, what I am "doing" when coaching is not telling, teaching or sharing, it is listening and helping them listen to their own words, desires, potential and spirit. I love the way you listen too, as I see you curate the FB site with such attentiveness.

Annette Doiron on September 4, 2016 - 2:31pm

I am a tree hugger from way back and a true tree lover before that. When I was lucky enough to live with a forest at my back door, I used to hug a certain tree every time I walked the paths and secret, sacred places there. I knew where I was at all times because I recognized individual trees there. I miss those friends still.

You made me remember a certain tree I used to hug on my evening walks. It was huge and ancient and stood on the park's edge. They think it was about 400 years old! One day I walked by and literally had to stop from the dizziness...the city had cut it down. Yes, there were reasons, but you should have seen the uproar of all the neighbour from blocks and blocks away. Now it is the site of an annual harvest feast, where we all spend time remembering the tree that brought a community together.

Anonymous on September 4, 2016 - 6:15pm

Thank you Tania for expressing so eloquently what I experience when ever I walk in the woods.

My pleasure. It was a struggle to put into words what is such a spiritual and kinaesthetic experience. It is good to know that others feel the same. T

Jim on September 6, 2016 - 12:33pm

Tania, thank you for your words. I often feel the same when I'm walking the ancient eskers and kames in the Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin or sitting on the dolomitic limestone on the shores of Lake Michigan in Door County. Truly a blessing to be able to find peace and love in our surroundings.

Yes, I agree with your sentiment... "To find peace and love in our surroundings" is perhaps the greatest solace and find.

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