Tapping into the Wood Wide Web

By Cyndi Dale
[Energy Work]

How can a bit of tree knowledge assist your bodywork, help your clients, and even bolster people struggling to cope with COVID-19? To explore these questions, I’m going to approach the topic energetically through physical and subtle energy.

In examining the physical science of trees, I was surprised by the research I found. Like you, I was raised to believe that a tree is an independent ecosystem. Not so! Trees are actually part of a “wood wide web” that shares information, water, and nutrients underground. Those with fused roots communicate directly. Others chat via mycorrhiza, symbiotic fungi that grow between tree roots.1

Same-species trees are particularly communal, participating frequently in exchanges called “kin recognition” to look for each other. Yet, they also form alliances with trees of different species. What type of information is food for fodder? Distress signals, for one. Yes, trees will warn each other about the presence of drought, disease, and even insects. In return for serving as middlemen, the fungi consume about 30 percent of the sugar that trees photosynthesize from light.

Trees also communicate through their leaves, detecting scent signals even while busily tasting whatever comes their way. For example, they can distinguish deer and caterpillar saliva. (“Watch out!” trees tell each other as their leaves are being munched on.) We’ve also discovered that trees emit and detect sounds, especially through their roots.

Internally, trees busily share all they are receiving through chemical, electrical, and hormonal indicators that seem very mammalian. In fact, trees are actually more sensitive than animals. For example, the root apex of a plant or tree has the capacity to detect 20 different physical and chemical parameters, including gravity, light, magnetic field pathogens, and more.2

So far, one grand takeaway is that trees are communal creatures. But they also assist all living creatures, including humans. As an example, forest areas are ripe with negative ions, which are good for our health.

Negative ions are atoms or groups of atoms that have gained an electron because of environmental forces, such as sunlight or moving air. Humans thrive in a balance of negative and positive ions; the latter are created when an atom or group of atoms loses an electron. Most people, however, are sadly lacking in negative ions. This is because we’re overexposed to the positive ions generated by human-made products, including electronic devices, fluorescent lighting, carpet, and paint, as well as air pollution. Because of the abundance of positive ions, exposure to tree-filled areas can increase our serotonin levels, thus creating mental balance. Frolicking in the forest can also help relieve allergies and seasonal affective disorder.3

Forest Bathing

Perhaps you’re starting to glean a hint of how to bolster your own or a client’s health through a link with trees. Foremost, spend time in their presence. Other countries have already caught on to this strategy. In fact, since the 1980s, the Japanese have been performing shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing.” Basically, a forest bather absorbs the energy of trees through their five senses, and then bridges to nature through their sixth sense.

As underlined by researcher Dr. Qing Li, studies show that forest bathing is resoundingly good for you. Spending time and meditating among the trees reduces stress by lowering the body’s levels of cortisol and adrenaline; suppressing the flight/fright/freeze/fawn reactions; reducing blood pressure; deepening sleep; and enhancing the rest and recovery of the nervous system. There are now 62 certified forest-therapy bases in Japan, where between 2.5 and 5 million people walk forest trails every year.4

Besides hanging around trees—and finding ways to integrate trees and wood in your practice—a healer should consider reinforcing the subtle effects of trees: as storage houses of collective memory due to their long life spans. Trees live a long time, thus they are commonly perceived as storage houses of collective memory. On the physical level, the electrical signals in a tree’s tissue only travel one to two seconds per inch.5 That means their reactions to events can take several minutes to travel from top to bottom or vice versa. We can benefit from this in our own lives by slowing down our experience of time, inviting an oft-needed change of perspective and the latitude needed to make and reinforce healthy changes.

Trees are held in great esteem across time and in many cultures.  So sacred are trees that tree worship is a worldwide phenomenon. Most commonly, they are considered the link between the human and transhuman realities—the tree’s vertical length serving as a ladder between the heavens, earth, and underworld. Metaphysically, trees are also empowered with an aptitude to grant divine blessings, deliver medicinal cures, channel or represent saints or gurus, and serve as the center of rituals involving spiritual initiations, marriage, and death.6

Taoism provides us many ways to employ the subtle energies of trees for healing purposes. For one, Taoism prompts us to examine trees to learn resilience. Trees constantly endure the elements without complaint, as those of us requiring fortitude should.7 According to certain Taoist masters, trees can also absorb negative energy and change it into positive energy. We can benefit from this in our own lives by slowing down our experience of time, inviting an oft-needed change of perspective and the latitude needed to make and reinforce healthy changes. The Asian banyan tree will purify the heart; hawthorns aid in digestion; birches lower body temperature and detoxify the body; willows reduce blood pressure; elms calm the mind; and maples reduce pain.8

I’ve always been particularly fascinated by the widespread presence of a Tree of Life in so many cultures. No matter which spirituality I’ve studied, I’ve uncovered a tree motif. The Tree of Life in the Abrahamic religions showcases our divinity, while the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represents the need to learn by exercising free will. The Tree of Life in both the African and Jewish traditions reveals a complicated subtle energy anatomy: by climbing upward from the ground, we can regain our oneness with the Creator.

Using Tree Wisdom in Your Practice

Both the physical and subtle effects of a tree’s energy reduce to a simple idea: vibration. Energy, no matter what type, is simply information that vibrates. When people spend time with trees, their health improves. So do their reaction times and concentration levels. Tree lovers also enjoy a reduction in stress and even mental illness, and after interacting with plants and trees, children function better cognitively and emotionally. The silent, strong presence of trees—and the ideas they represent—can alleviate all types of concerns while boosting our overall well-being.

So, how do we call upon tree energy and wisdom in the treatment room? How do we use the lessons of trees to boost our efficacy as healers? How do we assist people struggling with pandemic effects? Following are a number of ideas.

1. Forest bathe. Spend time among these stately beings when not working. Encourage your clients to do the same. If a client isn’t particularly metaphysical, quote a few of the scientific reasons for spending time with trees that are featured in this article. If this isn’t possible, go for plants in the office, or even a few branches or a piece of driftwood. A picture of a giant oak tree can suffice. No matter the quantity of physical trees in or around your office, as living beings, we emanate subtle and physical energy fields that interconnect—and exchange energy—with the energy fields of trees or parts of trees. Just knowing this fact can help you, or a client, draw in a tree’s negative ions and boost the psychological message of community.

2. Soothe clients with a tree meditation. How can you help your client become more grounded or in touch with their inner essence? End every session with a short tree meditation. Ask the client to imagine themselves being a tree: freestanding, but also rooted into a supportive structure. A sense of safety reduces stress and bolsters immunity.

3. Slow down time. It’s far easier to change unhealthy behaviors and make new choices if we give ourselves the gift of timelessness. If a client seems particularly stuck or confused about the cause of a presenting problem (or really scared about how long it’s taking for the world to cope with pandemic-related problems), ask them to imagine that they are as old and slow moving as a tree. Request that they stop their thinking long enough to examine the events and beliefs underpinning a current concern. Still entrenched in tree-time, the client can next arrive at a fresh perspective or action plan.

4. Encourage clients to reflect upon their own “wood wide web.” We are nothing more or less than interconnected fields of light and sound. That said, we are constantly interacting with—and exchanging ideas between—other people, animals, and all things outside of ourselves. Encourage clients to embrace this truth, as well as the power of choice. Which influences are life-enhancing? Which seem to be draining? Who or what can a client draw on to strengthen their immune system or lessen their viral fears? Energy follows intention. Support a client in deciding who or what they want to be impacted by, and how. The body, and its health, will follow.


1. Brian Owens, “Trees Share Vital Goodies through a Secret Underground Network,” New Scientist, April 14, 2016, www.newscientist.com/article/2084488-trees-share-vital-goodies-through-a-secret-underground-network.

2. Richard Grant, “Do Trees Talk to Each Other?,” Smithsonian Magazine, March 2018, www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-whispering-trees-180968084; Valentina Lagomarsino, “Exploring the Underground Network of Trees—The Nervous System of the Forest,” Science in the News Blog, May 6, 2019, http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2019/exploring-the-underground-network-of-trees-the-nervous-system-of-the-forest; Sarah Ripper, “Plant Neurobiology Shows How Trees Are Just Like Humans,” Uplift, February 27, 2017, www.upliftconnect.com/plant-neurobiology-trees-humans.

3. Alexa Freeman, “Isn’t it Ionic: And Other Reasons to Unplug for Your Health,” The Recommended Daily Blog, accessed August 2020, www.smartypantsvitamins.com/blogs/articles/isn-t-it-ionic-health-benefits-of-negative-ions.

4. Qing Li, Forest Bathing (New York: Penguin Random House, 2018), 65–69.

5. Sarah Ripper, “Plant Neurobiology Shows How Trees Are Just Like Humans.”

6. Amots Dafni, “Rituals, Ceremonies and Customs Related to Sacred Trees with Special Reference to the Middle East,” Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 3, no. 28 (July 2007), https://doi.org/10.1186/1746-4269-3-28.

7. The Book of Life, “Eastern Philosophy: Lao Tzu,” accessed August 2020, www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/the-great-eastern-philosophers-lao-tzu.

8. Life Coach Code, “You Can Heal Yourself Using the Chi Energy of Trees According to Taoist Masters,” October 20, 2017, www.lifecoachcode.com/2017/10/20/heal-yourself-chi-energy-trees-taoist-masters


Cyndi Dale is an internationally renowned author, speaker, and intuitive consultant. Her popular books include The Subtle Body Coloring Book: Learn Energetic Anatomy (Sounds True, 2017), Subtle Energy Techniques (Llewellyn Publications, 2017), Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Chakras (Llewellyn Publications, 2016), The Intuition Guidebook: How To Safely and Wisely Use Your Sixth Sense (Deeper Well Publishing, 2011), Energetic Boundaries: How to Stay Protected and Connected in Work, Love, and Life (Sounds True, 2011), The Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy (Sounds True, 2009), and The Complete Book of Chakra Healing (Llewellyn Publications, 2009), as well as nearly 20 additional books. To learn more about Dale and her products, services, and classes, please visit www.cyndidale.com.