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This contemplative exercise is designed to help you cultivate an appreciation of other forms of life, and your interconnectedness with nature.

1. Go outdoors, preferably to a peaceful place where there are trees.

2. Hone in on a particular large tree that appeals to you. Be sure that it is accessible so that you can lean against it or sit at the base of its trunk.

3. Spend a few moments sitting or standing with your back leaning against the tree. Take some deep breaths, and pay attention to the sounds and sensations around you. Imagine the tree as an extension of your spine. Cultivate an awareness of the energy that flows through the tree, from the deep roots to the leaves; visualize it connecting with the movement and energy (nerves, blood, oxygen) that animates your body.

4. As you visualize the roots of the trunk spreading out under the ground, think about all the nutrients and forms of life in the earth. Consider how you, too, are dependent upon the ground and the soil for your existence.

5. Pay attention to the branches and trunk stretching up and spreading out above you. Think about the dependence on sunlight, water and air that you share with the tree.

6. Still imagining the tree as an extension of your spine, breathe in and out, cultivating a sense of the energy that unites you, the tree, and the surroundings. Try to cultivate a sense of appreciation and openness towards the experience. Note thoughts and feelings that arise, whether they are positive or negative.

7. Whenever you are ready, bring the exercise to a close and then reflect upon the experience in a discussion posting. You may improvise with the above instructions, removing or adding elements as you see fit, but please still write about the experience.