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The Healing Practice of Tree Hugging

Reconnecting to our "Root" System

We typically use the term “tree hugger” to refer to an enthusiastic environmentalist. But did you know that literal tree hugging (really hugging a real tree), has tremendous benefits? I am a tree hugger in the true sense of the term, and I want to share with you why and how the practice of hugging trees can benefit you and your healing journey.

Thumbnail for The Healing Practice of Tree Hugging Video. Briana Pontius hugging a tree to demonstrate the healing technique of tree hugging.

I Admit It, I’m a Tree Hugger

Yes, I hug trees. In fact, I experience deep emotional shifts when connecting to trees. During my daily grounding techniques, I envision being a tree – rooting into the Earth and connecting to the magic we call Mother Earth. Sometimes, I even feel as if I am a tree. Pretty crazy, right? But as I journey through life, I have been amazed to find other tree hugging souls. And I invite you to become a tree hugger too!

As an energy worker, I am very sensitive to vibrations. This is something I have felt since birth. The energetic waves move through me and shift me. I have found that my energetic shifts in nature move me differently than the energy of other human beings. Trees honestly have saved me from numerous past traumas when I was really guarded with human interaction.

Therapeutic Benefits of Tree Hugging

Throughout my bodywork, I find that some people are very guarded with touch - not wanting to hug (or, these days, even shake hands). We all have our own storylines, with some of us not growing up in “hugging” families. Some children were not held and lack that sense of bond. So for some, hugging a person may be difficult and foreign. I work with a lot of clients to help them open to this form of bonding. Hugging a tree can be a very powerful technique to help one open their hearts to feeling a sense of connection.

A clinical psychologist, Stone Kraushaar, Ph.D., known as the Hug Doctor and author of the book, “Hug Therapy,” notes, “A good embrace - a hug - squeezes every ounce of fear, worry, and negativity out of your spirit, leaving you with nothing but warmth, inner peace, and a feeling of connection.” Dr. Stone Recommends that we stay in a hug for a minimum of 21 seconds. By doing this, the oxytocin (the hormone responsible for feeling calm and emotional bonding) is released in our body and the many benefits of hugging kick in. Examples of the benefits include:

  • Improved immune system

  • Reduced stress

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Better sleep patterns

Dr. Stone explains that hugging is a profound form of meditation because it is all about being present in the moment. The bottom line – hugging makes us happier!

Energy Healer Briana Pontius places her hands on a tree while looking up at the canopy. Tree Hugging has powerful healing benefits.

Our human connection to trees is important to note. Trees provide us with oxygen to breathe. Without them, we simply would not be here. They are by far one of the most important things we should hug!

In an article entitled: “Exploring the Underground Network of Trees-The Nervous System of the Forest” Harvard PhD Candidate Valentina Lagomarsino writes, “When scientists first studied the structure of nerve cells that comprise the human brain, they noted their strong resemblance to trees. In fact, dendrites, the term to describe projections from a nerve cell, comes from the Greek word Dendron, for ‘tree’.” The study of trees has led scientists to better understand the trees' own nervous system that can facilitate tree communication, memory, and learning. Crazy, right?

How to Do It: A Step-by-Step Guide to Tree Hugging

So, after a brief introduction to the benefits and science of hugging trees, you might be thinking, how do I hug a tree? Well, I am happy you asked. 😊

Briana Pontius hugs a tree. Tree hugging has powerful healing benefits.

In my opinion, the most powerful way to hug a tree is to be fully present. Have fun and make it a meditative experience. Most importantly, stay in your child-like mind and be playful. Being mindful that trees are alive and have similar comparisons to us might help make that shift to better appreciate these beautiful, tall-standing giants.

Here is a step-by-step guide to hugging a tree. This is what I do! You can also watch my instructional video

  • First, choose your tree. Whether in your backyard or on a hiking trail, really become present and set the intention of letting a tree call you to it. Whether it is the bark's beauty, a scar knob, the texture, or the color of the leaves, whatever calls you to it, go to that one. Don’t overthink this process. If you can’t feel any certain connection, that is fine. Just pick one. Remember, no overthinking.

  • Every tree loves to be appreciated. So, I start by taking a few deep breaths and then placing my hand or hands on the tree.

  • I then send my gratitude to the tree, thanking the tree for its service in this life. (Remember, the trees are why we can breathe!). Sometimes if I feel the tree needs healing, I will do Reiki to help the tree heal. Reiki is a service I perform for humans/plants/animals. You can learn more about it here.

  • I then go all-in on a bear hug! I wrap my arms around the tree and gently press the side of my face on the tree. I rotate my neck from side to side during my hug. This not only provides a neck stretch, but it also balances both the masculine and feminine parts of my body energy. (The left side of our body is feminine and the right side of our body is masculine, found in many beliefs in cultures around the world).

  • The duration of my hug lasts from 21 seconds up to 5 minutes. This is where I am intuitive. I utilize this time of connection for mediation and pray for whatever comes up. An example: I will ask for guidance for challenges that I am facing. Or I ask for the Spirit of the tree to take something that is heavy. Or I just enjoy the moment, feeling the life force present within both the tree and me. This part can be whatever you want it to be.

  • Ending my hug with the tree is like ending a prayer to me. I seal it with a kiss of gratitude or whatever I am intuitively feeling in the moment. (Not an actual kiss, however I may have kissed a tree or two during the days of Molly Shannon’s movie, Superstar!) ha-ha.

The Ripple Effect of Tree Hugging

Briana Pontius, founder of Touch of Nature Healing, is a tree hugger who enjoys the healing and grounding effects of nature.

Though this experience is different for me each time, it is always amazing to sense the shift in my overall emotional JOY I feel when connecting to the trees. There have been moments I have cried, laughed, remained silent, experienced rushing thoughts, had visions, heard voices, sensed the spirit of the tree, and so on.

As I write this, I continue to have visions of when my daughter, Emma (who is 2 years old), and I play outside. Since the day she first stepped outside she also has felt the magnetic pull toward the trees. She always loves touching the trees and wants to climb them. I especially enjoy tree hugging alongside my daughter. The intimate bond this brings, with sharing hugs with trees, leaves me speechless.

The energy exchange just doesn’t end with you and the tree. It’s fascinating to see the ripple effects of the benefits this has to other trees and other people, as we are all interconnected, “rooting” for one another. You may notice as you enter back into whatever reality is outside of the forest, that the calmness you feel ripples to those around you.

What better gift to give to yourself, others and the trees?


I hope this “leaves” you wanting to experience the joys of tree hugging for yourself. No pun intended 😊


Briana Pontius

Note: If you are interested in bringing the essence of nature indoors, essential oils provide another resource to help bring calmness to your space. Here is a list of essential oils that are sourced from the leaves, branches or resin of trees:

Arborvitae, Cedarwood, Cypress, Douglas Fir, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Melaleuca, Myrrh, Petitgrain, Sandalwood, Sandalwood (Hawaiian) and White Fir.



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